Dustin Schneider finds it hard to be away from Canada’s senior men’s volleyball team during one of its biggest international events, but he knows it’s for the best.
Schneider left the Canadian squad, which wraps up the group stage of the FIVB World League this weekend in Finland, after aggravating a knee injury two weeks ago in Poland. The 27-year-old Brandonite has not been completely healthy while playing with Canada this spring. He had surgery on his right knee in March and didn’t feel he was 100 per cent before the team competed in the NORCECA Olympic qualifying tournament and the World League. Schneider landed awkwardly in Canada’s 3-0 loss to Poland on June 1 and has decided to take time away from the game to fully recover.
"I won’t be joining the team for the rest of the World League," said Schneider, who’s resting in Winnipeg. "I’m just taking time for myself to try to get back to 100 per cent instead of trying to play at 70 per cent."
Missing out on the World League has been agonizing for Schneider, Canada’s former starting setter.
Since his injury, Canada — ranked 18th in the world — has lost all five matches, taking only one of those to five sets. It heads into the final weekend of Group B play in fourth place with a 2-7 record, one point back of 27th-ranked Finland in the standings. Team Canada, which also features left side Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, has no chance of catching world No.1-ranked Brazil or No.4 Poland for a spot in the finals.
Schneider wishes he could be in Finland to help his teammates try to finish strong this weekend.
"It’s tough to see them go out there, especially since they’ve had a little trouble last weekend and this weekend and I wasn’t able to help them out," he said. "It’s been hard, but they have to find a way to regroup and try to compete a little bit more. If they don’t win the games, they need to at least try to keep it close and fight with those other teams."
The World League is the final competition this spring for the national team, which gives Schneider plenty of time to recover. He’s still trying to figure out whether he will take the fall off for rehabilitation at the national team’s training facility in Gatineau, Que., or play professionally in Europe again.
Regardless of what he chooses, he’s happy his injury isn’t too serious and won’t force him to retire as he wants to try to help Canada try to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I really want to be around for the next quad," he said. "My goal is to get healthy so I can help them out in the next few years."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 15, 2012