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Coach Lorne's Summer 2013 Blog

The 27th Summer Universiade Games are in Kazan, Russia, from July 6-17, 2013, and ASPIRE's Dr. Lorne Sawula is one of the Canadian FISU Volleyball Representatives. Coach Lorne's news is below. Games details are available at

Thurs, July 18, 2013 - Wonderful Host for the Games

Wed, July 17, 2013 - Interesting Observation - Car Being Towed in Russia (wasn't my car)


Tues, July 16, 2013 - 2:53pm - Volleyball Comes to a Close

Well tonight, everything has come to a close. Japan defeated the Ukraine 3-0 to capture the bronze and Russia pounded Poland 3-0 to win the Gold. The crowd was again robust with the Prime Minister of Russia in attendance along with about 40 security guards and about 5 dogs who check out the entire stadium during the day. It was a sad good bye to old friends and JC, from Belgium, who was in the hospital last night came out with the okay to go home but he has to undergo further examination by his home doctors. 

Award ceremonies was, again, very good and it was super to watch how they entertained the crowd while waiting for the medal presentations. For me it was a tourist day in the morning and left at 3:30 to watch the final matches and got to the hotel at 11 pm. I leave at 7 am in the morning for the airport and go for around 27 hours to get home. Then it is the Aspire Camp next week and finally, after that, some R & R. 


Tues, July 16, 2013 - Canadian Men Update

Well we are getting down to the end. One of our colleagues from Belgium had a pre-stroke, as we were told, last night and is in the hospital here in Kazan. We are all wishing him a speedy recovery and are lucky that the Russian medics were around the court to assist him. Tonight the men's Bronze and Gold take place. Japan vs Ukraine for the Bronze and Russia vs Poland for the Gold.

Final standings in other placings for the men were:
5. Canada
6. Czech Republic
7. Brazil
8. Korea
9. Belarus
10. Estonia
11. Latvia
12. Chile
13. Thailand
14. Mexico
15. Australia
16. Switzerland
17. China
18. Hong Kong, China
19. United States
20. Macau
21. United Emirates Republic

Canadian men did well in the statistical results. 5th and 6th in total scoring points were held by Canadians Nicholas Hoag and Steven Marshall. The best blocker in the tournament was Lucas Vanberkel who had 25 blocks or .96 per set played. Many other Canadians held top 10 spots in the individual skills. Most likely Lucas will receive the Best Blocker award tonight. Overall in the team category Canada Men were 2nd overall in the blocking stats, 2nd in Service and 2nd in non scoring skills. 

More tonight after the the last match. I have attached a picture of Mark Tennant (FISU Technical Committee for Volleyball), 
myself as Jury member, Melanie Sanford (U of Regina - Co-Chairperson, FISU Technical), Pierre Farmer (Montreal - Referee Jury) and Peter Koncnik (Slovenia - Referee Jury) at the Control Committee table.

Our Russian hosts were superb and after tonight will get their long awaited rest - 5 gyms, 30 referees, 36 teams, 27 sports, +14,000 athletes - as was said by Willy Bruninx (FIVB representative) this was actually a double Olympics and a double World Championship rolled into one event.


Mon, July 15, 2013 - 4:05pm - Results from today's Volleyball Action

We just finished the women's matches. Thailand beat Poland 3-1 to finish 3rd for their first ever bronze medal at FISU. I just finished as Control Committee Member in charge of the final Gold match at St Petersburg stadium. At first it seemed that there would be a small crowd but what we didn't realize is the they sold the Bronze and Gold matches separately. When they had the teams introduced at the start of the game there were only about 1000 people in the stands, by the time the first point started there were over 5000 fans in the stands with all entrances and walkways full of crazy Russian fans. You could not move or talk to the person next to you. 

Russia had the lead in the first set but were surprised right at the end with the Brazilans rallying to win 27-25. Great volleyball, power, amazing defensive digs, great transitions, tactics and very emotional play by both sides. Russia bounced back to with the 2nd set 25-21 and the third was also 25 -21. However, these 3 games had take about 1 hr and 20 minutes to play. By the time the Brazilians hammered the Russians in the 4th set (25-16) we were up to 1 hr and 50 minutes. And after the 5th set the match had lasted 2 hrs and 14 minutes. Russia got a 4-0 and 6-1 lead but the Brazilans came back and kept some pressure on their opposition. It ended up 15-10, with the Brazilians actually out scoring the Russians 10-9 but the start gave the home crowd the victory.

Start of Gold Medal Match - RUS-BRA

Closing Ceremonies - RUS, BRA, THA

In the Men's side the finals are tomorrow with Russia playing Poland and Ukraine playing Japan. There is an expected sell out again for this bronze and gold. However, today our Canadian Men finished 5th defeating the Czech Republic in straight sets. They showed great poise and composure, blocked their opponents to their knees and enjoyed the outcome. On another note our Canadian Men are the talk of world volleyball as they have qualified for the final six of the World League of Volleyball. Matches may be on TV in the next weeks.

More in the morning when I get to see the stats and other placing results for the men.


Mon, July 15, 2013 - Busy Day in Women's Volleyball Ahead!

The big day is here for the women. That means the gold and bronze matches are being played this evening. Before a sell out crowd Russia and Brazil advanced to the finals with wins over Thailand and Poland. The smaller Thai's could not prevent the 'cannons' of the Russian women and offence over came defence. In the the other semi's Brazil had more difficult time defeating Poland 3-1, the second set was 32-30 for Brazil. So the top 2 teams in the tournament have come to the top and this was expected by most volleyball experts. Russia is the favourite tonight and the rumour is that the Prime Minister of Russia and his 20+ security members will be in attendance. 

I am fortunate tonight as I will have the best seat in the house. I am the member of the Control Committee that has been appointed to control the match along with Willy Brunnex from Belgium. I hope we don't have our hands full with the extra people that will be in attendance. It is being carried live by Russian and Euro TV.

Thailand, almost the smallest team in the tournament has shown good spirit, poise and defence. However, they have one attacking player who has been an outstanding attacker during this event. Teams have had many 'burnt' arms due to the their wipe-off skills. However, tonight in the bronze match, Poland will be favoured who are a taller and more offensive team, but it should be interesting for the spectators. 

In other results which ended in a ranking for the women's teams in this tournament:
5th Japan defeated CAN 3-0
6th Canada
7th North Korea (Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea) defeated TPEi 3-1
8th Taipei
9th Slovakia defeated CZE 3-1
10th Czech Republic
11th Chlie defeated HKG 3-2
12th Hong Kong
13th China defeated USA 3-1
14th USA
15th Norway

Statistically for Canada and their rankings:
Individual Skills (Top 10):
Attack - none
Blockers - Alicia Perrin 2nd - with 13 blocks and .81 per set played
Servers - none
Diggers - Tesca Andrew-Wasyluk  6th - with and average of 1.61 per set played
Setters - Kelci French - ranked 7th overall
Receivers - Kyla Richey - ranked 6th overall
Liberos - Tesca Andrew-Wasyluk  3rd overall

Team Rankings (Top 10)
Attack - 8th Canada
Block - 4th Canada
Service - 8th Canada
Digging - 4th Canada
Setting - 8th Canada
Reception - 4th Canada

Top Scorers
1. Jong Jin Sim - PRK 123 points
2. Chen Wan-Ting TPE 88 points
17. Lisa Barclay CAN 44 points 
24. Alicia Perrin CAN 40 points
29. Kyla Richey CAN 38 points

The men's side had their rounds as well. Russia will play Poland for the gold tomorrow and Japan will play Ukraine for the Bronze. Tonight Canada plays the Czech Republic for 5th place and Brazil plays Korea for 7th. Canada beat Korea 3-2 in 1 hr and 55 min. To get into the play offs, Canada's men have already beaten CZE once in their pool play 3-1, so they hope to play well for this 5th place position. Belarus plays Estonia for 9th place and Latvia plays Chile for 11th. The 13th place finals is between MEX and THA.15th place is between AUS and SUI. China and Hong Kong play for 17th place. Already finished was 19th place - USA, 20th Macao, and 21st Hong Kong.

The Canadian men have Nicolas Hoag ranked 6th in scoring with 83 points and Steve Marshall is listed in 9th place with 78 points. Individually in the skills, Canada has no players in the attack, while the best blocker in the tournament right now is Luca Vanberkel with 21 blocks in total and .91 per set played. McLean is also in the top 10 in Block. Chris Hoag is 7th in Service, Nieroda, Derek is the 5th best diggers and Jay Blankeau is listed 7th in the setter category. Neiroda is listed 5th in the libero position.

More later as I have to rush for a bus.


Sun, July 14, 2013 - More Results



More from last night's results:


Big day last night for Canada Women who beat Taipei 3-1 (25-27, 25-14, 20-25, 25-27) to advance to the 5/6 position play off against Japan who defeated North Korea 3-0. They now will play Japan for a respectful result in this competition. Winning against Japan would be a nice feather in the hat for Canada but they probably will be the underdogs in this match. Japan is still feeling down after their close loss to Brazil for the right to go to the final 4.

For place 1-4 there was a good battle and Russia beat Thailand easily 3-0 and Brazil defeated Poland in a hotly contested match 3-1. So it means the Prime Minister of Russia will be present to watch the Russia Women play Brazil in the finals with Poland playing Thailand for the bronze. Thailand is a very small team compared to the other 3 teams in the competition and may be getting a bit tired after fighting very hard to get to the top 4.

In the bottom pool the Czech Republic plays Slovakia (their sister country as after the Eastern Bloc days they divided into two countries) for 9/10, China plays Hong Kong for 11/12 and China play USA for 13/14 place. Norway finishes last in the competition or 15th.

As far as women's statistical results are concerned Canada has no players in the top 10 in attack which is led by the London Olympic player Goncharova with 60 kills and an attack efficiency of 43%. Canada does have a player in the Best Blocker category and this is led by Alicia Perrin with 9 blocks and an average of .69 per set played. Canadian libero Tesca Andrew-Wasylik is in 8th place in the digging category, 3rd in the reception of service and 5th ranked amongst Libero's. Kelci French, setter for Canada, lies in the 7th place in that category. 

In the team category Canada women are ranked 7th in Attack, 4th in Block, 8th in Service, 6th in Digging, and 8th in Setting.


Canada men lost a tight match in straight sets to Ukraine 3-0 but the sets were by 2 points so I am sure they are disappointed for having to play for 5 to 8 places. Because there are more men's teams than women, they play one day longer in the tournament schedule than the women. Canada's match up is against Korea who lost a heartbreaker in 5 sets to Poland. They will have their hands full in this match. Brazil plays the Czech Republic in the other semi's for the 5-8 pool.

For the placings for 1-4 Russia plays Japan in one semi's and Poland plays Ukraine in the other. Russia is heavily favoured to win this competition but this is why they play. Belarus who are in the 9-12 playoffs took the Russians to 5 sets in their preliminary pool.

In the 9-12 placing pool Belarus plays Latvia and Estonia plays Chile. Chile has a server who has served at 129 mph and I saw one player from Thailand being hit in the throat by the serve and knocked straight on his 'keister'.

For the 13-16 placings Australia plays Mexico and Switzerland plays Thailand.  Finally for the 17-21 placings Macau first plays Hong Kong and then the winner gets to play United Emirates Republic and China plays USA.

Statistically, for Canada, Nicholas Hoag is ranked in 4th place with 73 points scored, followed by Steven Marshall with 56 points. Luca Vanberkel leads the blockers with18 blocks and an average of 1 per set played. Canada does have a player ranked in the top 10 of setting, digging, receiving, serving and libero. Overall in the team ranking skill categories Canada is ranked 6th in Attack, 2nd in Block, 5th in service, 6th in defines, 8th in setting.

More after tonight,


Sat, July 13, 2013 - Busy Times in Kazan

I found out that these games have even has more athletes and more teams than the London Olympics had. There are 14,000 athletes from over 150 countries. Volleyball has 36 teams in men and women. They have sold over 500,000 tickets by the opening day. Tickets cost between $1 and $10.00 per event but many, like closing ceremonies, will cost more. 

Kazan is the 3rd biggest city in Russia - somewhere between 1-2 million people. The people here are known as "Tatars" as they descend from the ancient Bulgars and they call their state "Tatarstan". They have their own language and customs - closely related to Turkish. Although 70% of the population is Muslim, many do not practice the 'traditional' islamic life styles. Only 10-20% of the people are religious in nature. The Russian Orthodox Church has a big following for the Russians who live here.The Russian Orthodox Church and the Islamic Mosque stand side by side on the hill indicating the long relationship between both religions. 

As for volleyball -- Canada women lost the other day to Thailand 3-0 but the 3rd set was close. Canadian Men finished 2nd in their pool and along with the women are going to be in the top 8. However, I think the men have a chance to get to the final 4 where the women will be hard pressed to win a match in the placing round. To date the top teams are:

Russia,Korea,Canada, Poland, Brazil, Japan, Czech Republic, Ukraine
Women (Final 4):
Thailand, Russia, Poland and Brazil
Women (5-8) Canada, Taipei, North Korea and Japan

Japan lost a heart breaker to Brazil last night losing 28-26 in the 4th set.Russia seems to be the team to beat - maybe Brazil can give them a fight. For the men, they are just starting the play offs and Russia is the favourite.

More tomorrow with results,

Sun, July 7, 2013 - Opening Ceremonies and Early Observations


About 55,000 people, including Vladimir Putin, came to watch an historical opening ceremonies that was worth a gold medal in itself. It highlighted the history of Russia and its achievements. The bottom of the stadium became a lake with water fountains, boats, dancers, and an assortment of light shows that were unbelievable and spectacular. Female Volleyball athlete Kyla Richey, from UBC, was honoured by being nominated to carry out the Canadian flag. If there was any hang-up with the opening ceremonies was that it started at 9 pm and ended around 1 am in the morning. I am sure that a few athletes were a wee-bit tired in the morning. 

Volleyball began this morning with the men's team beginning their competition. Later today the women get underway. There are 21 men's teams (after Algeria and Oman withdrew) and 15 women's teams (after Algeria withdrew), including both Canadian Men's and Women's programs. The Canadian women, in particular, are in a position to make the final 8 as Algeria was in their pool. They play both Brazil and Norway. So the opportunities are to make it to the final 8 with a cross-over to the final 4 after, most likely, a match vs Japan. 

Favorites are both Russian teams who are serious about this event and have added 2-4 national team players who have recently competed in London, 2012. Brazil, Czech Republic, Poland, Canada, Japan, and Ukraine should have a chance to meet Russia in the final pool for men. Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan and Thailand are the favourites to meet up with Russia in the women's side.

The tallest athlete here is a 7'(2.14 m) Ukrainian male athlete with a 3.65 spike jump and 3.50 block jump. Brazil has a male athlete who jumps 3.60m. The Russian men's team average height is 2.01 m (6'7") with an average spike jump of 3.48 m and block jump of 3.40 m. Team Canada Men average 1.96 m (6'5") tall with average spike jumps of 3.45 m and blocks of 3.19 m.

In the women's pool the tallest team is the Russian team with an average of 6'2" (1.88 m). Their average spike jump is 3.04 m and block jump is 3.05 (perhaps the spike jumps are deliberately under estimated). Canada's Lucille Charuk is amongst the highest jumpers with a spike jump of 3.25 and a block jump of 3.05 - that is world class. Canada is among the tallest teams here with a 1.84 m average (6'1"). Tabitha Love is one of the tallest athletes here at 1.96 m (6'5"). I remember her as a potential youth national player in 2002 when she was only 14 years old, growing too fast with knees to show that growth spurt, even then. The Russian team also has a athlete of the same height.

Attached are a few pics of the days leading to competition. Kazan is part of the Islamic Tattar community. 75% of the population is Islamic based but you wouldn't know it. They dress very western. All in all a great example of integration and showing that Islam and western religions can live side by side in peace and harmony. 


Tues, July 2, 2013 -- Delegates arrive in Kazan and are given a warm welcome

Update from Coach Lorne: These are the biggest Summer Universiade Games ever with 27 sports and over 14,000 athletes, 20,000 volunteers, 2,000 organizing committee members, plus around 15 venues (5 of which are volleyball). We have been getting ready to receive the volleyball teams who will be here on Wednesday. There will be 23 men's teams and 16 women's teams competing. Click on the following links for Canada's MEN'S ROSTER and Canada's WOMEN'S ROSTER.

Sat, June 23, 2013 -- Volleyball Team = Extended Family

Coach Lorne celebrated a twenty year reunion with his former Swiss National Women's Volleyball Team in Switzerland this weekend. He was Head Coach of the Team from 1990-1993. The team celebrated a FISU Bronze medal win in 1993. The Team had a ten year reunion celebration in 2003 and now a twenty year reunion in 2013. Looks like the next scheduled reunion will be in 2023!

Reunions like these are a testament to the lifelong bonds that the sport of volleyball creates. Teams become families.