Bios of all ASPIRE Coaches can be found on the Coaches webpage

Coach Lorne's Summer 2015 Blog
ASPIRE's Dr. Lorne Sawula has been asked by the FISU* Volleyball Technical Chairperson, Mark Tennant, to assist in running the volleyball portion for the FISU Games. Believe it or not, even though there are less sports in the FISU Games compared to the Olympics, it is a bigger event for volleyball given the number of teams that compete. Four venues operate simultaneously for the length of the Games. This year volleyball begins the day before the Opening Ceremonies and is one of the last events to finish.

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Here is a direct link to the M/W Volleyball schedule/results: SCHEDULE
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* FISU stands for Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (International University Sports Federation). FISU’s main responsibility is the supervision of both the Summer Universiade and Winter Universiade, as well as the World University Championships and other international university sporting events.

Sunday, July 12, 2015 - 8:00 am MST

Russia Men win gold, Ukraine silver, Argentina Bronze and Chinese Taipei - 4th.

An interesting match with scores very close in the first two sets. Russia is huge at the net but Ukraine played smart and well to make it very close in the first two sets. They rallied and won the 3rd but couldn’t match the power of the Russian attack and block in the 4th set. It was almost that they ran into a wall. 

Politics reared it ugly head in the 3rd set when one of the Russians said something under the net. Players got together in a scrum right under the referee’s stand and almost came to more than just verbal blows. But Choi, Korean referee, did a good job to talk them down. In the end he had the captains shake hands in front of the crowd and that almost got the 2800 up in the stands to cheer wildly. The Ukrainians and Russians are at war on their Eastern border so this was nice to see that both finals were played and players handled themselves with pride and respect.

There is a Typhoon sneaking by the Korean coast and heading to North Korea and then on to Japan but lots of flooding down south from us. Lots of rain and wind here but. Tomorrow morning we are off by bus to the train station and then on to Seoul Incheon Airport and home. 

The funny thing about travelling is that this trip home is one where you can live the same day twice - well almost. If you see me in the gym sometime then you can ask me why?

Bye from the 2015 Gwangju Fisu Games here in Korea. Next one in 2017 is in Chinese Taipei. Men were 4th here and I would expect them to finish higher at home, women will be tough too.

Aspire Volleyball ‘ON THE ROAD’


Referee Sub Committee Jury Member Peter Koncnik (Slovenia), Technical Sub-Comm Members: Lorne (Canada), Ghaffar Derakhshandeh (Iran)

Reserve Referee from Chinese Taipei, Second Referee Malcolm Mousseau (Canada) and First Referee Choi (Korea)

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - 7:45 am MST

Well almost done here. Watched the Women's Gold final and Russia demolished the Ukrainians 3-0 without much of a fight. They are far the best team here and it was good to see Canada Women play a good match against them a day ago. For the Bronze it was Japan 3-1 over the Brazilians. Great spirit and determination shown by Japan to claim the victory. The Russians all play in their “Pro Super League” so I don’t know how they all became students so quickly.

Rankings for Women:
5. China - thought they were a poor team for being Chinese but still eeked out some wins
6. Canada - very good tournament, might of gotten a higher finish if in a different pool
7. Thailand - nice combination play for a smaller team
8. Colombia - big surprise for their first FISU
9. USA - improved as the tournament went along
10. Finland - another good surprise, decent athletes and close to their National Team minus a few older players.
11. Switzerland - my old team surprised Turkey in the second round
12. Chinese Taipei - too small but should have finished higher, surprised that they lost to Finland
13. Turkey - biggest disappointment after beating Canada 3-2
14. Korea - only 3 women’s universities playing volleyball in Korea - not good level of play
15. Chile - a good team but a bad result
16. Zimbabwe - tried hard in their first ever international tournament but were outclassed. Much to remember!

The FISU Organization does not allow all stars or best attacker, etc. to be named in this competition. As a result there cannot be a recognized award ceremony unless it is done outside when medals are presented to the top 3 teams. So there are none of these type of recognitions in this competition.

And for the Men, the Bronze is tomorrow with Argentina playing Chinese Taipei and Russia playing the Ukraine for the Gold. I got a bit lucky and was chosen with the Iranian to do the Gold medal match as a Jury member. I hope there is a good crowd and a better match than the women today. They are the two tallest teams in the competition so there should be some good blocking and attack with strong spin service. 

Today I had two matches that both went 5 and over 2 hours each in those 5 sets. What was outstanding was the number of defensive plays with the foot being involved. In one play the ball was dug in 6 and went behind the Referee’s stand and into the opponents side of the court. The player chasing the ball has to bring it back to their side without going inside of the antenna. As the ball was just about to fall he lunged on his back sliding and kicked the ball over his head back to a team mate near the 3 m line who attack the ball and scored. In another similar situation the setter chased the ball in the same place, turned to face his team and set the ball back to a teammate on the 3 m line who attacked the ball but it was blocked. There were about 5 or 6 plays of this variety in the two men’s matches I had today. I have never seen so many different ‘foot’ plays in volleyball in such a short period of time. Libero’s have to learn to do the impossible some time on the court. Crowd (all 320 of them) went wild.

In the Japan vs Iran match in the 2nd set, Japan is down 22-19 and they bring in #2 who has not seen any action in the first set. He hammers a serve that almost took the arms off the receiver. He then proceed to do this 4 times in a row, also made one spectacular one handed dig and when Iran finally scored it was 24-23 for Japan. It brought them back into the game. Typical of Japan to save one player for one task and watch that player do it. His training during a practice session was probably to bounce in the corner for 15 minutes - come into team training and use his spin serve until he made a mistake and then go bounce in the corner again until he was asked to come in again. In the 5th set they have a player who is very tall for Japan, 1.99 (Dexter, not really a Japanese name), but he started the 5th set and made two blocks and a kill to keep Japan in it. He was later pulled after the change over. Heard after that he was a starter but had injured his knee in the first or second match. With him it might have been another team and a better result. They have never had a men’s player with this height before so he will be a treasure in the future.

Rankings for Men:
5. Iran - if in a different pool they could have finished higher
6. Japan - deserved a better fate, but setter is too small but still they would not have finished as high without him.
7. Latvia - played hard, lacked quality middle players
8. Chile - spirited, went as far as the two brothers could carry them
9. Korea - started to play good volleyball in the second round. Seemed as if they were not ready for the first one.
10. Switzerland - bit of a surprise, played at a good level
11. Thailand - very fast attack, maybe best setter in the tournament.
12. Colombia - good result for their first time in this competition and played their last 3 matches without a libero.
13. Czech Republic - disappointment, should be higher
14. Venezuela - very spirited
15. Mexico - same as Venezuela
16. Brazil - biggest disappointment in the competition, fighting with themselves, really unusual for that country
17. USA - tall but not stay
18. Australia - same as the USA
19. Canada - 3-0 today over China for their first win
20. China - another disappointment for such a big country
21. Hong Kong - my favourite team along with Chinese Taipe and Thailand men to watch

The smallest libero in the tournament is on the women’s side being 4’11” (1.51m) tall. Many around 5’2” to 5’6”. A few over 6’ (1.82) as well. A lot of men now have specialized libero’s instead of the older power hitter who can’t jump as well as he used to. All men’s team’s seem to be using 3 receivers instead of the traditional 2 for international play. None used two libero’s in this competition. But two women’s team did enter 2 libero’s in their line-ups. Maybe Canada could have done something similar as I am sure it was a discussion point before they decided on the decision that they did.

More from the final match tomorrow. Matches are at 2 pm and 8 pm - same as it was for the London Olympics - guess it helps to sell tickets twice. Hope there is a 1/2 price sale of some of the souvenir training shirts. If you can believe it there are no XL size shirts in Korean stores. They may call them XL but they are more our Large shirts. Occasionally you can find 2XL (they call) which is like our XL shirts but not many choices. I asked a few Koreans where do the ‘big guys’ get their clothes. They just said the buy them on the web as there are no ‘big and tall’ shops in most Korean cities.

Last day tomorrow, will enjoy it while it lasts.

Honam University - 500 students only but superb buildings and gymnasium

Friday, July 10, 2015 -  8:40 am MST

Well another day and a very hot and humid day. I am so glad we play in air conditioned gyms or it would be a sauna bath. 

Here is Mr. Lee and myself. He was the coach of the Hannil Synthetic team who we played many times in the 80’s. He looks much younger than his age of 72. I remember him in the morning training his players before one of our training games. It was around +3 or 4 Centigrade. All his players had thin gloves on, long training pants, long sleeve shirts, sort of korean hats and here was Lorne and his Canadian girls with the old ‘bum’ hugger shorts, short sleeve training T-shirts and enough breathing out of white clouds in the air which would condense all the windows left in the gym - as there were many windows that were open to the outside and no heat in the gym that was a lot of breathing, believe me. Live and learn.

Coming to an end in a couple of days. Mainly the medal rounds to be played - women tomorrow and men the day after. Our Canadian teams finished today. 

Canadian Women's Team
Our women had a superb tournament, going 5 with many of the teams they played, and today was no different.

Match Duration: 2h07m
Spectators: 2,500

Meg Casault was held to 8 points score, Dione Lang contributed 3 and Niles played in every set as a defensive and serving specialist. As you can see by the scores it was very close and another ‘almost’ win for Canada. Brisebois had her match of the tournament scoring 25 points, I think a team high for this tournament. Perrin also contributed a career best scoring 19 points. Team Canada finishes 6th which was a good or better than the younger national team group that went to Kazan in 2013. It is one of the higher finishes in the last few years. Considering that they had to raise the money to go at the last moment and then also pay some of their airfare themselves, this is quite an accomplishment.

Canadian Men's Team
Our men did not fair as well playing Australia. It was a better match for them and they showed glimpses of learning from this tournament. I guess U21 athletes are not ready to compete with older athletes as it showed in this tournament, but I know they will have learned from their mistakes and will only get better when it counts in the Noreca’s which occur later in August.

Match Duration: 1h42m
Spectators: 450

Canada plays China tomorrow for 19th place in this tournament. Hong Kong is already finished in 21 place.

Upcoming Matches
I will save a little time and just talk about the Bronze and Gold matches coming up for women. It is heavily favoured Russia coming up against Ukraine for Gold. For the Bronze it will be Brazil against Japan and this should be an equal match with speed and defense vs attack and block. I will give the other final results tomorrow.

For the men it will also be heavily favoured Russia (who thrashed Argentina today) against Ukraine (who defeated Chinese Taipei). Taipei and Argentina play for the Bronze medal. Both of the matches will end FISU 2015 on Sunday for volleyball.

1. Yesterday Colombia men’s libero went down with a throat infection - don’t know the reason but he was not allowed to play in his match. They were playing the Czech Republic. They didn’t expect to win because no libero. Somehow they surprised themselves and won the first two sets, went down badly in the 3rd and 4th but managed to win 15-10 in the 5th. Who says middles can’t pass?

2. For our coaches - Brazilian men’s assistant coach was censured today for an angry outburst at linesman after the match. Letters sent to his Head of Delegation and Federation. If outbreak occurs again he is disqualified from 2015 FISU Games, publication of his suspension in Daily Bulletin and sent to all teams, and submission of a written report to the FIVB with copies to Brazilian Volleyball Federation and Brazilian Student Sport Association. Coaches, understand that your action can carry huge consequences if unwarranted. Line calls and referee calls do not warrant you going off the deep end!



Update @10:35 am MST

Couldn't sleep. Here is the rest of the story …



Women's Stats:

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 7:10 am MST

Details to follow about CAN women's win ...

Updated at 9:10 am MST

Here is a picture of just a few of the apartment blocks where 13000 athletes are staying and their support staff. All the buildings on the left of the road are part of the athlete’s village. There are probably 6-10 other high rises that I couldn’t get in this photo from my room with 4 similar high apartment towers for the judges, jury, technical officials, etc. the main accreditation centre is in the foreground.

Some interesting ‘tid-bits’ from the games:

1. Taipei men have two sets of identical twins playing on the team. #2 is Hong-jie Liu and his brother #7 Hung-min Liu both born on Nov 10th, 1993. The main differences are that #2 jumps higher than his brother 3.40 spike jump vs 3.30 jump and is 2 cm taller. The other two are #12 Mei-chung Hsu and #15 Wen-cheng Hsu are born Oct 16, 1991 and a big difference in spike jumps with 3.33 for #12 vs 3.15 for #15.

2. Chile has two brothers leading their team with their exploits on the court. They are the Parraguirre brothers, Tomas and Vincent. Tomas is the elder and both have a spike jump of 3.40. Tomas is the power house right side for his team and his brother shows more skill and is the leading power and passer on the team.

3. For the Men teams with players over 2.00 m:
Brazil - 5 and two at 2.05 m ( 6’9” )
Czech - 4 and tallest 2.05
Iran - 5 and 2.02 the tallest
Mexico - 1 at 2.00 m
Argentina - 4 with 2.02 the tallest
Australia - 4 with 2.07 the tallest ( 6’11”)
Canada - 6 and 2.07 the tallest
China - 1 at 2.00 m
Czech Republic - 4 - with 2.05 the tallest
Iran - 5 - with 3 at 2.02 m
Latvia - 4 with tallest at 2.06
Mexico - 1 at 2.00
Russia - 7 with 2.17 the highest (7’0”)
Switzerland - 3 - 2.01 the tallest
Thailand - 1 at 2.02
Ukraine - 5 - 2.08
USA - 5 with 2.13 the tallest
Venezuela - 1 at 2.00

4. For the Women with players over 1.88 (6’2”)
Brazil - 1 - 1.89
Canada - 3 - 1.93 tallest
China - 1 at 1.88
Russia - no stats but many, tallest team - 1 at over 1.95
Switzerland - 1 at 1.89
Turkey - 4- tallets at 1.92
Finland - 2 - both at 1.91
Ukraine - stats wrong but many over 1.88
USA - 3 - at 1.88

5. Female Coaches
Canada - 1 - Assistant
Turkey - 1 - Head Coach
China - 3 - 1 head coach and 2 assistants
Not much more but I may be off 1 or 2

CAN Women
Well back to the good part Canada women did beat Colombia 3-0 has we all hoped for. So they will be playing for 5th place against China. Playing for 7th place will be Thailand and Columbia. In the top 8 the favorites all won except maybe for Ukraine beating Brazil 3-1, Russia hammered the Japanese 3-0. So it is a Russia vs Ukraine for the gold and Japan vs Brazil for the Bronze. Next, in the 9-12 pool it will be USA vs Finland for 9th and Switzerland vs Chinese Taipei for 11th. For the 13 to 16 grouping it will be Turkey vs Korea the top honours in that pool and Chile vs Zimbabwe for the last placings.

Now for the men. Our men had a bye until tomorrow and will play Australia who defeated Hong Kong in 4 sets.. Results to date are:

In the top pool, the highlight was the Iran vs Ukraine match. Ukraine down two zero came back to win in 5. I did the Russia - Latvia match and even though it was close Russia was in control but forced in the 1st and 3rd sets. Taipei my other match was too much for Chile. They are a smaller team but have great combination play, a great setter, two sets of twins and a libero (for men) 1.65 tall, so all you young guys there is hope to play at the highest levels if you polish up those skills.

17 - 21st is where we find Canada's men playing tomorrow.

Check the Schedule for Results + Upcoming M/W Matches:

That is it for today. I have a long day with 3 matches from 1 pm to 10 pm back at beautiful Honam University - will try to take some pics on the way in. It is on the side of a hill with beautiful view and flowers everywhere. The gym is an international venue but only seating for around 2000.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 6:50 am MST

Details to follow about CAN women's quarter final …

Updated at 9:50 am MST

Nice to see Canada’s logo in the top 8 pool. I hope that everyone got a chance in Canada to watch their match against Russia. Playing against the top team in the tournament Canada played a very respectable match. Serve receive broke down a few times but there were some special attacks, very good blocks and many broken play conversions. The first set was very close but Canada couldn’t get by the big block in the end and although they fought in the other two matches it was not as competitive in the home stretch. Down in the last two sets in the middle they managed to come back but couldn’t maintain the level of play needed to keep the Russians off balance. This Russian team has 4 players, I think, from Kazan FISU and they played in two tournaments prior to this event. So it was a ‘serious’ team that was well prepared. The completed in the Yelsen Cup in Russia and in Montreux (finishing a respectable 3rd in that event).

In other action Japan beat Colombia 3-0. Interesting to watch Japan with 3 coaches and 2 medical on the bench, 2 statisticians, radio contact, video and Colombia with 1 coach. In maybe the best match of the night, Ukraine beat Thailand 3-1 and Brazil thrashed China 3-0. 

I hate to say it but from a technical point of view it was not a good night. Thailand & Ukraine and Russia & Canada were the best matches. Each team has weaknesses and strengths but not all teams are using good game plans in preparation of their matches. Japan will have to receive better if they wish to move higher in the rankings. Ukraine showed a lot of attack power but little defense, China was just very average (almost like an average University team from Canada), Colombia played with heart but did not have enough size, although their defense was exciting at times. Russia was the most poised and Canada did not make a lot of unforced errors except in a few streaks which cost them a chance to get back in their match. Reception too, let Canada down.

Brazil plays Ukraine and Japan plays Russia. I would think that we will see if the Japanese can frustrate the Russians with off speed and wipe-off tactics at the net and add superlative defense to keep the Russians off balance. They will have to touch a lot of balls with their block, and if that fails it will be difficult. Russia is the kind of team that, if you can frustrate, will break and body language becomes bad. The same you can say about Ukraine, they can be their worst enemy as they give so many ‘dirty’ looks, don’t talk after a mistake or touch for support, etc. I guess Brazil is okay but not super. Russia and Brazil have to be the favourites to advance but they should be competitive matches.

In the 5-8 pools Thailand plays China which should be won easily by Thailand and Canada plays Colombia. It should be a Thailand vs Canada rematch of their round robin game for the 5th place match (Unless Canada gets frustrated by the play of Colombia and their tenacity to keep trying). 

In the 9-16 pool play there was a big upset by Switzerland who beat Turkey in 5. Athletes this is why you compete as no one in their right mind would have picked that result. I did not see the match but Turkey must not have brought their ‘A’ game today. The Swiss, my old National Team, should be very proud of that result as it was their first win in the competition. Finland beat Korea , the USA defeated Chile in straight sets and Taipei thrashed Zimbabwe. So the 9-12 placing pool it is USA vs Switzerland and Taipei vs Finland. I would think it would be a USA vs Taipei final.

In the other pool Chile plays Turkey and Korea plays Zimbabwe for the 13-16 rankings. Should be a Turkey vs Korea for 13th place.

Tomorrow the men resume their play and the following is the 1 - 8 schedule:
Taipei vs Chile - fast and quick vs power
Ukraine vs Iran - your pick both very good teams, probably Ukraine the favourite
Japan vs Argentina - again fast and quick vs power and blocking
Russia vs Latvia - the big favourites with 4 seven footers on the team and Latvia which I have not seen

For 9 - 16 :
Czech vs Colombia - should be the Czech’s
Mexico vs Switzerland - your call - two close teams
Brazil vs Korea - Korea improving should give Brazil and tussle
Thailand vs Venezuela - Thailand should prevail

And for 17-22
Hong Kong vs Australia - Australia most likely the favourite because of their size
with Canada getting a bye and the winner (the next day) while the USA gets a bye until tomorrow too when they play China. 

That is it for today, already looking forward for tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 8:30 am MST

Not a great deal from today, especially since our men lost 0-3 to Switzerland. Our U21’s will now be playing for 17-22 positions and even there they will have their hands full. They will have the USA, AUS, CHI  and HKG. There are no weak teams in that pool.

Results Men:

Pool A
1. Chinese Taipei
2. Argentina
3. Czech
4. Korea
5. USA
6. AUS

Korea started to play better in the last few matches showing some good combination play. Taipei was the surprise of the pool . Argentina showed steadiness throughout the competition. USA and AUS are big and good teams but lacked the consistency throughout. Tonight the USA beat Korea but end up still 5th in their pool.

Pool B
1. Russia
2. Iran
3. Thailand
4. Switzerland
5. Canada

Russia dominated this pool with many players over 2.00 m tall and one at 2.17. This is their true National ‘B’ team. Iran plays spirited but tonight was overpowered and over blocked by Russia. Thailand lost in 5 to Iran and have a very good team. Switzerland also showed improved play from other years. The Canadian team has yet to win one set so this next round is critical to their self confidence. I am sure they are learning from these losses.

Pool C
1. Japan
2. Chile
3. Brazil
4. Colombia
5. Hong Kong

Japan surprised me a bit but as a team they have been together now for two summers and are showing good team cohesion and consistency. Chile was the surprise beat Brazil tonight to advance to the final 8. Disappointing was the Brazilians but that is what you get when you arrive the day before their first match and only with 7 players to start. This is why I think that this is the strongest overall FISU to date because this is the first time that a quality team from Brazil has been pushed into the second tier. Colombia did well in their first FISU, improving in every start. Hong Kong gets my vote as the most improved team but size is a weakness for them.

Pool D
1. Ukraine
2. Latvia
3. Mexico
4. Venezuela
5. China

Ukraine may be the team to challenge Russia, or so my friends tell me. I have not seen them play. Latvia is another surprise and have played very well. Mexico and Venezuela both surprised China and end up ahead of the Asian powerhouse. China will be very disappointed.

The 1-8 pool looks like this. Favourites have to be Russia and Ukraine.

For 9-16 it looks like this and the Czech Republic may be the favourites but it is quite open as they have played poorly towards the end of round robin play. Brazil is the team to be but even on their side Thailand will give them problems, if both advance.

For the 17-22 schedule it looks as if Canada got a break having a bye to the second round, again an open pool with the US being slightly favourites.


Monday, July 6, 2015 - 8:00 pm MST

2015 World Universiade Women's Volleyball Quarter Final #4
JULY 8 @ 20:00 Gwangju
JULY 8 @ 07:00 Eastern Standard Time, @ 05:00 Mountain Standard Time
** There is a 13 hour time difference from EST to the time in South Korea **

I believe it will be streamed:


Monday, July 6, 2015 - 7:05 am MST 

More details to follow about the big win for CAN women's team ....

Update issued at 11:20 am MST

Photo of Mark Tennant, Co-Chairperson with Melanie Sanford of the FISU Volleyball competition.
Saied is on the left side, he is the Technical Delegate from Iran and the FIVB. 
To Mark’s left is the mayor of Gwangju, Dr. Eom, from Korean Volleyball Federation and someone to his left which I don’t know.

I am just back from my matches in Parma and am watching the feed from the Thailand vs Canada match. Canada has to win to have any chance of moving on to the top 8 in this competition. Canada lost the 1st set 25-19, won the second set 25-14 and then won a close 3rd set 27-25. However in the 4th set they are down 23-19 right now. So here we go again, they probably are in another 5 setter as with Thailand, yes they just lost 25-20. Now If they could win the match they would have 6 points and Turkey would only have 5 points, thus putting themselves in second place. Thailand cannot finish worse than 1st as they will have 7 points, even if they lose. If Canada loses they would 5 points, the same as Turkey. In sets won vs loss they would be 7 & 6 , while Turkey would be 7 & 5. Which I think would put Canada in 3rd place - however, I say at this time I am not a 100% sure of the tie breaking process. Lets just win the match and worry about what will happen after.

Here we go - Canada up 2-1 and now 4-2, maybe that loss last night will help them mentally as they battle through this set. Thailand called a time out but after Canada scored its 5th point to go up by 3 - great. Maybe another run … yes another point … we are up 6-2 - keep it going - another time out by Thailand but Canada puts another point on the board - we are up 7-2 - the exact reversal of last night. Now again we think about the point by point game. Make 1, give 1 .. get a chance and then take 2, even though Thailand is in the situation as Canada last night where they have to win 2 points every time they serve. So if our side out is steady we have the chance…. another point so at the turn we are up 8 - 2 and in control to win this match. I know the players can feel the chance and believe me that last night loss will pay huge dividends in this set. Exchange of points not 9-3 for us… another 1 and 1 so it is 10-4, keep it going girls! 5 more points and Turkey will be in 3rd place. I must of guessed wrong earlier as I think that Thailand just took its second time out… another exchange of one point each 11-5 - that is the way that it is done. No runs against and just playing side out volleyball - great job ladies. Ouch, a run by Thailand, they are up to 7-11 - no problem just one side out away from being in control for sure. Canada time out I am thinking. … steady as she goes ladies… maybe another time out or back row sub . got to change the rhythmn of the match … must of been a glitch but IT IS OVER AND WE WIN 15-8. WONDERFUL JOB EVERYONE. Now that I have said that they are 2nd for sure we have to wait until everything is finalized but I just looked in the handbook for tie break procedures and this looks like the case. If we are on line before things end I will confirm. Another match for Canada that almost went 2 hours. Meg Casault was second in points for Canada with 3 blocks and 13 kills, Dione Lang contributed 3 blocks and 5 kills for 8 points and Jessie Niles had some digs but I don’t know how many.

So the teams in the 1-8 category, a wonderful achievement for Canada as this is a high class tournament:

Pool A
1. China
2. Colombia
3. Chile
4. Korea

Pool B
1. Russia
2. Ukraine
3. Taipei
4. Switzerland

Pool C
1. Japan
2. Brazil
3. Finland
4. USA

Pool D
1. Thailand
2. Canada
3. Turkey
4. Zim

The top 2 advance from each pool. Tomorrow will be a rest day for all the women’s teams and if I read the draw correctly, Canada will play Russia which is a power team and maybe the favourite to repeat from Kazan where they won two years ago. Their next opponent, depending upon how they do will be Japan or Colombia. If they lose to Russia I would think that they would play Colombia as I don’t think they can take Japan, but I have been wrong before.

On the other side China will play Brazil and Ukraine plays Thailand. 

Yes, just saw the draw and what I put forward is correct so matches will proceed as I have listed them. Good chance to finish in the top of the 5-8 side if they lose to Russia. I don’t think that anyone is giving them much of a chance to advance except for themselves. Already they proved to be the equal and better of Turkey and Thailand - both the top 2nd team in their country. For a program that all came together in a short period of time this is a super achievement.

Have a great day - it is a great day for Canada.


Sunday, July 5, 2015 - 7:00 am MST

Myself and Peter Koncnik (Slovenia) on duty for the match. Do you like our ‘pink’ jackets?

Yeomju Gymnasium - Main Gym - seating 7,500. In this match Argentina vs Korea there were about 2500 spectators. Upper seats mainly empty but hopes they will fill up when play-offs occur. Main issue is that Korean Men will not advance to first 8, good chance that Korean women will finish 2nd in their pool and will advance to top 8. Not good for TV, many of the matches are been televised on Euro Sport in Europe and in local stations here in Korea. With no Korean men it might mean a lower crowd draw or TV sponsors will not be happy.

Today the good news is that Canada women beat Zimbabwe, very easily which is good. The bad news is that their next opponent Thailand beat Turkey 3-1 today. This means even if they beat Thailand it will come down to ties and then points as they will all have beaten Zimbabwe. Guess we shall see tomorrow. The Canadian men had a bye today.

As the standings go right now it seems that advancing to the Top 8 for men will be:
Pool A
Chinese Taipei
Czech Republic or Argentina 

Pool B

Pool C

Pool D
Latvia or China

The other teams will still play and they will re-pool with those finishing 3 and 4th in their pool playing for 9-16. If Canada Men do not get hot in the next two matches they could be in the pool for 17-22. They would have to beat Switzerland to stay in the 9-16 pool. Switzerland played well, losing against Russia and Iran, but they were more competitive than Canada has shown to date. So Canada will have their hands full when they play Switzerland in their last match. On a small note George-Andre Carrell, from Switzerland, was my head of delegation many times when I was in Switzerland in the early 90’s. His son is playing for Switzerland in this competition.

Korea has two identical twins playing on their Men’s team, it is a good thing that they have different numbers on their shirts or if they change who could tell? On another note the two athletes that lit the torch on opening ceremony date were male athletes, although a few females were recognized in passing on the torch before it was lit. One the male athletes was a baseball player (yes baseball is a demonstration sport in these games), who later went on to play professional ball in the US major league. Why no female?

We have 40 international referees here to run all the matches. They have to take a rules exam in the beginning and pass above 70%. The international language for all participants is English. The problem is that about 8 referees do not understand English and had to write another exam to improve their scores. This does not mean that they are bad referees but does mean that communication on the court is in English. All the captains in the event are supposed to talk to the referees in English as the ‘working’ language. Both Canadian referees were in the 90’s. One Korean female referee scored 100%, not bad for a second language.

For the women and their standings it looks like be as follows:

Pool A

Pool B
Ukraine or Taipei

Pool C

Pool D
Turkey or Canada

The level of the teams here, overall, is the best that I have seen in the past 4 FISU competitions. For the women only Zimbabwe is of a lower level, although I have not seen Chile or Colombia yet. Korea is a bit of a disappointment for the women but then there are only 3 universities in Korea that have women’s teams. Most players here, if they play professional ball, are not in school.

As far as it goes for the Men there is no ‘non’ competitive teams. Yes there are some teams that are of a lower level but they are all strong representatives of their country and their level of volleyball is good. Lets hope we have some close matches as we conclude the round robin play and move into the play-offs.

Tomorrow I go to Palma which is the furthest competition from Gwangju - about 1 1/2 hours by car/bus. But at least I have women’s matches which should be good. FIN vs JPN, UKR vs TPE and not good TUR vs ZIM but it means we finish quickly and a better arrival time back in the ITO Village where we stay. It means I leave around 10 am and get back around 10 pm, as I do all 3 matches as Jury member.

On the 7th of July, Tuesday here, I have a nice match in Yeomju Statium (the main court), last one of the round robin and it could mean 1st place in that pool, RUS vs IRI Men.

Good night
잘 자 or jal ja


Saturday, July 4, 2015 - noon MST posted

From opening ceremonies last night. Was a nice affair - dedicated to the students who are the ‘lights of tomorrow’!

Today had only one match Korea vs Argentina which Argentina won very easily actually. Lot of mistakes by the Koreans in serve and attack. Good blocking by the Argentinians. 

Argentina is coach by Kantor who was an outstanding setter in the late 80’s and 90’s. Within him and Conte and outstanding right side player they teamed up to win a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 1988, beating their arch nemesis, Brazil, for the 3rd placing. Their tactic was to give the ball to Conte at all times when points were needed. Didn’t matter if front or back row and didn’t matter how many players tried to block him. Kantor found ways to use enough of his other players in quick set situations and then use a back row attack to position 5 - which they mastered. They were the only team in the world to use that set location regularly and probably no one has used the position as a consistent place to get points from. Conte was usually unstopable and Kantor rallied the troops with his outstanding choice of attack and found many one on one situations as he mastered the game.

One of the assistant coaches of that Argentinan team from 1981-83 was Julio Velasco , who later moved to Italy to take them to two sliver medals at the World Championships and one bronze at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Stay tuned for the rest of the story - where did Velasco go after Italy and why is this country a surprise in world competitions after 4 years of his style of coaching. He coached this country from 2011-2014 and now is back coaching the national Men’s team of his home of Argentina. If they win both of the two matches against Bulgaria, in Bulgaria, this next weekend they may push Canada Men out of the final 8 of the World League.

Canada men have finished their competition in the World League. Canada has more points than the other teams which are awarded for 3-0 wins (3 pts), 3-1 or 3-2 wins (2 pts) and if you lose 2-3 (1 pt). But if you have more wins than your opponents you automatically get a higher placing, even though you have less points. Right now Canada men have 23 points and are 6-6 (wins/losses) and finished their matches. Bulgaria is in first place with only 18 points but they have won 7 matches and lost 3, better than Canada. Argentina is 4-6 and with two wins in the final World League matches against Canada could tie them with 6 wins and 6 losses. Depending upon the set outcome they could maybe squeeze Canada out of a of that final position but, I think, they would have to win both 3-0 to make this happen. They play tonight and Sunday in Bulgaria. Stay tuned or look at the results on line. Bulgaria is in as the host in the next round so you never may know what will happen. If they don’t want Canada in their pool the watch out - stranger things have happened in international volleyball.

Canadian Coach Glenn Hoag rested his older players for the last few matches since they have to return to play in the Pan American Games coming up in Toronto later in July. Canada lost its last two matches to Argentina 3-1 and 3-2. But if all goes well Canada will move onward in the World League competition, a tremendous achievement if that is to occur and I am sure will win Gold in the Pan American Games. What coach Hoag has done is so very special that not a lot of people realize the work that he has done to make these results happen.

Just before I send this I am waiting for Canada’s Women’s results against Turkey. They lost the first set 25-19 as I begin to write this and are down 22-21 in the second set. Now Canada is up 24-23 and chance to win and even the match. Yes, they just won the set 25-23 in a long 33 min match. Super - now we will wait even longer but I will try to give you a bit of a play by play for every technical time out (8 and 16 and end of match result). Means they have around another hour to play out this match. I saw Turkey practice and they did look good but maybe the Canadian women are even better. We shall see shortly.

Back to 3rd set action Canada is down 16-8. From Alberta and Laurie Eisler’s U of A Pandas it looks like Dione Lang ( 2 points ) and Meg Casault ( 5 points ) have started all sets so far. Jessie Niles is playing as a defensive specialist and has been used in all 3 sets. Alicia Perrin leads all Canadians with 12 points. The third set has just ended in 23 minutes with Canada losing 25-16. I am only getting running scores on the system used her for the Games, wish that I could see the match live. if you go to: you can get scores and a live stream of the points being scored and some stats if you care to follow yourself one night. You have to go to Volleyball and then the results section. It says whether a match has yet to start, is finished or ‘running’ when it is still live. Remember there is a 15 hour ahead time change if you want to catch the action. 

After 2 min of the 4th set it is only 1-1, so much to go before we know if a come back is in order or not? Waiting, waiting, waiting - not a good feeling when you should be there watching. Remember I was talking about Velasco, the Argentinian who has returned to his country to coach their Men’s team and I asked you a question. Have you got the answer yet - if not you have to wait until after the Canadian match - sorry.

Canada down 8-6 after the break and now 9-6 … as I look they are back in it down only 13-12. Well that country that has come into prominence under Velasco is IRAN - yes Iran a world power. A team that mainly only has competed in the Asian Championships over the last 8 to 10 years and lately the World League for Men. They are currently the strongest team in Asia, yes better than Japan, China and Korea (having won the 2011 and 2013 Asian Volleyball Championships and they rank 10th in the world in the FIVB rankings (as of September 2014), maybe higher now. They finished 4th in the 2014 World League for Men, a big surprise. Remember their team here in FISU easily beat our Canadian Men 3-0 two days ago. Canada Men are currently ranked 14th as of September 2014.

Breaking news Canada women on a run, up 16-13 - go girls go! Still hanging in with a 19-17 lead. Casault must be on fire because she is up to 11 pts scored for Canada. … Now up 21-19 - almost there now the nerves get a bit tight but we can handle that as that is why athletes play. … Up 23-20, think we are going to set 5 … 24-21 …. oops 22-24 but only one side out needed, maybe time out taken by Canada because no movement in the score. Lets hope that Olivier’s tactic will work … IT DID! WE ARE GOING 5! GO CANADA GO! Another 27 minute game.

Stay tuned almost done - another 15 minutes. You know when you come back on a good team and put them under pressure anything can happen. We must continue to be aggressive and think about the process, not the outcome. Bad start for Team Canada, Turkey up 3-0 - time out called, I think … have to get the next side out … didn’t get it …down 0-4 … no, down 0-5 … finally a point but then win by Turkey 1- 6. Shows that Turkey has come experience and they seem to be holding their composure better than Canada (but they will learn from this situation - something that you can’t really duplicate in practice)…. bit of a rally we are down 3-7 - now if we can get a point or two before the turn it will help us mentally to get back in the game - think point by point not the end result girls …no luck Turkey got there before us - down 3-8, maybe there still is a bit more in the tank. It is a 2 for 1 situation right now. We need to get a run of two each time we serve or even better a run of 3 would help if we are to get back into this … its coming we are now down 5-9, got that 2 points, now maybe a few more … Turkey time out … great 6-9 we got another run - now we are getting into their heads - steady now but stay aggressive - Turkey may be thinking about the outcome and maybe the fear of failure will come into their heads … still chances Turkey scores but so do we 7-10 … another point but only one … 8-11 … time out Canada, I am sure! Sweaty hands and cool minds, I hope. Here we go again … Meg up to 13 points for her team, ouch … 8-12, side out and not too many more chances to get that run of 3 we now need … darn it - 9-13 … YES, 2 in a row 11-13 … CHANCE …time out Turkey … our girls are showing that they are fighters … next point … dig and transition … YES 12-13, one more time girls … 14-14 YES, YES … go it is in the Turkish heads … ah no … 14-15, what happened and … wait … wait … not good …. 14 -16. So close, so close but I am sure they will find the positives and get ready take out this loss on Zimbabwe and Thailand. It should help for the Thailand match regardless of how good they are. Well done - even though I know they will hate themselves for the loss.

That’s it folks - never done this before - talk myself into a match that I don’t see in front of me but only in my head … maybe with some past experiences thrown in.


Stats ...
Meg 15 points scored
Dione 8 points scored 
Jessie Niles  5 digs
Match: 2 hrs and 7 min

Friday, July 3, 2015 - 5:15 am MST

View from my podium over looking the match court of Hanom University

Today is the second day of match play. Mostly the men have played and I have seen 7 of the matches where I have been on duty. My role is to help the match go smoothly and with out delays or hiccups. On occasion I get to be in charge of each match and basically am able to make decisions on anything that you see in front of me. I have a partner who handles the referee’s and their decisions. I only get involved with their decisions if it affects the running of the match and whether it is played or not. I control everything on the floor from 90 min before the start of the match to 30 min after it ends. It is not without difficulties but that is why they pay my airfare and food and lodging when I arrive. On the whole it is long hours but very enjoyable. We have literally 1000’s of student volunteers who are all anxious to say ‘hello, good evening, how are you, enjoy your stay’ in english and if we answer back in Korean phonetically like ‘an-yo-a-sayo’ they giggle and smile because to try to say hello, or good bye or whatever the context is at the moment you are communicating. I have an interpreter with me all the time that I am at the matches, when I am on duty. They try to handle the communication between myself and the court manager, ball manager, floor moppers, security, doctors, etc.

Our Canadian team suffered another loss today, losing to Thailand, 3-0. This basically puts them out of the final 8 as I don’t think they will have a chance to beat the Russian men. Even though they have 2 more matches to play they now are trying to stay in the 9-16 position level. They are the Canadian Jr team that will represent Canada at the Norceca Jr Championships later this summer. So the experience can only help them, it they continue to battle forward and upward. Our Canadian women start tomorrow against Turkey which I think is a very good team as I got to watch them practice today before my matches started. Then they follow with Zimbabwe and Thailand. I don’t still know which level this team of Thailand’s is at but should know in a day or so.

Korea Men were upset by Taipei, 3-1 which probably was the biggest surprise to date. The rest of the matches were more or less predictable. Brazil Men were pushed by Hong Kong but went down in the end 3-2. Brazil’s arrival was late and they only had 7 players (6 + libero). The rest come later today. They had two players go down with leg cramps and if they would not have continued, Brazil would have lost by default for not having enough players to continue the match. All the men’s team’s I have seen to date are reasonable. There will be two or three levels in the end but, I think, the highest level that I have seen to date. 

Interesting was Colombia Men competing for the first time. At our Preliminary Inquiry meeting they did not have a 2nd set of uniforms so I got a Korea friend to contact a company and had them pay for a second set, which they wanted. Guess this uniform will be a souvenir because they had their names put on the back - in Korean, which excited a lot of the watching fans. It didn’t help them as they lost 3-0 to Chile.

The only women’s match I saw was Russia vs Taipei. Tall and skinny vs small and quick. Guess who wins - sorry but the defense of Taipei was not enough to stop the attack of the Russians who won in the end 3-0. Still it was very nice to watch.

The weather is cooperating and opening ceremonies are on as I send this e-mail, Canada entered and have a big delegation. I will have to find out how many. Tomorrow I only have a simple day with one match but it is the Koreans and Argentina Men at 3 pm. So it should be interesting as it is in the main stadium which seats around 7,500 spectators. I will let you know if it is noisy or not.


Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 5:40 pm MST

Almost forgot that matches today changed from start at 11 am to start at 9 am at my gym Hanom. Yesterday had 4 matches and all were reasonable volleyball. Canadian men got off to a bad start, losing 3-0 (and badly) to Iran. I think they were a ‘victim’ of jet lag as they only arrived a couple of days ago. Live and learn, I guess but maybe too late for them to respond in their pool.

There is a record number of athletes here at the event, about 13,000 participants from 149 countries have registered. Team Russia has 680 players and 250 coaches, Japan has 684 delegation members, followed by China with 610 and USA with 590. Team Iraq is here with 5 players and sport officials. North Korea decided not to participate at the last minute. 

Tonight is opening ceremonies and it is supposed to be a gala affair. For more pics on the affair go to:

That is it for now, off to the bus,


Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 5:20 pm MST

Here are the ‘infamous’ Canadians on the Volleyball Control Committee - Lorne, Mark Tennant (SK), Ed Toews (MB), Melanie Sanford (SK), Pierre Farmer (QB) and Malcolm Russo (ON).

Volleyball starts today and goes right through until the 13th of July. All teams play for a final placing regardless of the earlier outcomes. There are 21 Men’s Teams and 16 women’s. For the first time ever at the FISU Games are Zimbabwe Women and Colombia Men and Women. Including training halls there are 13 venues that have to be staffed and FISU has 21 sports now in these Games. In actuality this is a bigger event for volleyball than the one held at the Olympics.

Favourites for men are past FISU Champion - Russia, host Korea, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Iran, and Ukraine. For the women the favourites are Host Korea, past FISU Champion - Russia, China, Brazil, Japan and Ukraine. Canada Men arrived late and will be troubled as their first round draw today is Iran. Iran is very tough so they will have their hands full. As the top two teams move forward this is a must win for them when they least want it. Russia will prove difficult for them if they lose today vs Iran. The women lost a training match to Finland but they feel that it did help them to prepare and get the bugs out. They have a good chance to advance from their pool if they beat either Turkey or Thailand. Zimbabwe, in their pool, will not be a problem. I hear that Turkey women are very strong and picked by some that I know to be the ‘dark horse’ in the competition.

I have 4 matches today as a Jury member so it will be a long day.I have 3 men’s matches: CHN-MEX, BRA-HGK, COL-CHI and one women’s match TPE-RUS. My picks after the first round!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 7:00 pm MST


Spirit of light that spreads the bright hopes to the world!

Nairobi combines two Korean words - “NURI”, meaning ‘the world’ and “BI”, meaning ‘soaring’. Nairobi is the messenger of light that will link communication for the youth around the world.

Light of the Creation, Light of the Future!

The slogan “Light Up Tomorrow”, is derived from Gwangju City and its slogan, “The City of Light”. The hope is for young bright athletes around the world to come to Gwangju to embrace the ‘light’ and then ‘tomorrow’ to ‘Light Up’ the world!

The emblem is the ‘Wings of Light”. The wings represent the 6 continents and the 5 oceans that soars with passion, dreams and harmony. The emblem represent the dynamism of the Universiade and the harmony of the world. The “U” shape also represents the “Universiade”.

The 6 wings rendered in red and orange on the left symbolize 6 continents and the 5 wings rendered in blue on the right symbolize 5 oceans. The overlap of the wings symbolizes the harmony and friendship of young athletes around the world through the Universiade.

Young athletes leaping forward into the future and spend of wings symbolizes young athletes triumph through sport.

Today is the last day of the Preliminary Inquiry and we still have much work. By 8 pm we have to get another 18 teams into our system so that they are all ready to compete as the first matches begin tomorrow. Tonight is the final “Technical Meeting” where all teams meet each other and the ‘rules of engagement’ are presented by the technical chairperson, Mr. Mark Tennant and Ms. Melanie Sanford (both happening to be from Canada).

More tomorrow,

Aspire’s travelling messenger of light

Sunday, June 28, 2015 - 3:30 pm MST

Had first day of meetings where we were introduced and got to meet the organizers of each of the 4 facilities that host the competition. Additionally the Korean Volleyball Association members were also present and our ‘team’ came together to become a reality. It was going to start! 

However, as normal glitches start before things get going smoothly, our first occurred. United Arab Emirates pulled out of the men’s competition. This means a pool has to be changed and some matches have to be rearranged. Now we have 4 pools of 6-5-5-5 instead of the 6-6-5-6-5 that we originally had. That was the simple solution but more importantly, one competition hall does not yet have its floor finished yet. So its inspection and lack of readiness may mean that training times for teams may have to be changed and this is harder to do as new facilities have to be found, transport arranged, teams notified, etc. 

For me my day (since I am up at 3:30 am begins early. I have to work with Melanie Sanford from the University of Regina to set up the “Preliminary Inquiry Meeting’ for the next two days. This is where the teams have their players confirmed, uniforms standardized, advertising checked, staff on the bench finalized, etc. Each of the 21 men’s teams and each of the 16 women’s teams have to come in for a meeting to begin the competition. This is followed up tomorrow evening with the “Technical Meeting” where the general rules and regulations that are going to be used and followed in the competition are presented.

Volleyball then starts on July 2nd, a day before the opening ceremonies. 

More later,


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival which is staged every two years in a different city. It is only second to the Olympic Games. The Summer Universiade consists of 10 compulsory sports with 13 compulsory disciplines and up to 3 optional sports chosen by the host country. The record figures are 10,622 participants in Shenzhen, China, in 2011 and 174 countries in Daegu, Korea, in 2003. Embracing FISU’s motto of 'Excellence in Mind and Body', the Summer Universiade incorporates educational and cultural aspects into 12 days of sports competitions, allowing university student-athletes from all over the world to celebrate with the host city in a true spirit of friendship and sportsmanship.
  • The only summer multi-sport event in the world that connects students at both academic and athletic levels
  • 12 days of sports competitions
  • More than 9,000 student-athletes and officials from over 170 countries
  • 13 compulsory disciplines and up to 3 optional sports
  • Volunteers and participants are students, generally of the same age
  • Broadcasted by more than 100 TV channels
Hopefully, I can provide some insight into the competition as it rolls along.