Jeremy Davies of the Brandon University Bobcats will play in the under-21 men’s world volleyball championship this week. (FILE PHOTO)
The waiting has been the hardest part for Jeremy Davies during his summer with the Canadian junior men’s volleyball team.
The Calgary native, who is heading into his second season with the Brandon University Bobcats in the fall, has enjoyed training and practising with the national team in Hamilton, Ont., but he’s anxious to play real matches. The Canadian crew was supposed to get its first match experience at the under-21 Pan Am Cup in July, but that tournament was cancelled.
Canada did face some provincial teams that participated in the Canada Summer Games instead, but it just wasn’t the same.
On Thursday, Davies and his Canadian teammates will finally play their first international match of the season when they face Tunisia to open the under-21 men’s world championship in Turkey. Davies is anxious to get started.
"For sure it’s been difficult having a big tournament like that Pan Am Cup to look forward to and then have it get cancelled," Davies said by telephone from Hamilton before leaving for Turkey. "We took a trip to North Bay (Ont.) to play the Canada Games provincial teams, so that was obviously not anything compared to other international teams, but it was good to get on the court and play them in that atmosphere.
"We’ve been training all this time and it’s kind of been hard knowing (the world championship) is so far away, but now it’s finally almost here and I’m looking forward to it."
Thursday’s match will mean a lot to the 5-foot-9 libero. Davies always believed he was a good player, but never was able to crack a provincial team before, never mind a national team. Now he’ll step onto the international stage sporting the Maple Leaf on his chest.
"I always kind of knew I was ready for it, but never really got the opportunity and now it’s coming true," said Davies, who helped the Bobcats win their first Canada West championship and a bronze medal at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports championship in Quebec City this past season. "To put on that Canadian jersey will feel great."
Although he wishes he could have had more matches, Davies has made the most of his time with the national program. As the only libero on the team, he has been on the court a lot and has received a lot of reps in practices.
Playing for Dave Preston, who guided the McMaster Marauders to a silver medal at the CIS championship this past season, has given Davies a different perspective on volleyball. It also has him more focused on every point than he was in the past.
All that should help Davies at the worlds in Turkey and when he returns to the Wheat City in the fall.
The 20-team world championship will be a tough test for Canada, which is ranked 19th in the world. It has been placed in a pool with the second best team in the world in Serbia as well as the United States (sixth), Tunisia (14th) and Rwanda (20th). The top four teams advance to the round of 16.
Davies and Canada, however, have their sights set higher than getting past the pool stage of the 10-day event.
"We’re going to Turkey to win the world championship," Davies said. "… As long as we play our game and stick to our systems, it should be a good tournament."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 20, 2013