The morning started slow with my spending several hours catching up on my blogs. We were all tired from our lack of sleep the day before, and no one was moving before 11. Alicia and Ruth went over to the mall to wander a bit, and pick up some red nail polish to be suitably decked out for tonight’s game. This will be a big one, and decide whether we go on or end the exciting journey. After they returned, we applied our Canada tattoos to our faces and debated about what else to wear. Ruth tried on the red and white cowboy hat that she had crammed in her suitcase, but it was so distorted that it looked more like something Pancho Villa would have worn to cheer for Mexico. She settle on a head band with Canadian flags bobbing on the end of springs. Alicia tried to talk me into wearing the red and white wig that Ruth had brought, but I would have nothing to do with it. She decided to wear it herself.
It was around 2 that we packed up and made the journey to Canada House. Thankfully it wasn’t as crowded today as it has been in the past. Traffic was unusually heavy, and it took a lot longer to get there than on any other day. We discovered on arrival, that we had missed a big evening the night before, with many of the medaling swimmers and rowers coming by to take a bow and get a taste of appreciation from their Canadian fans.
Most of the talk amongst volleyball parents, was about what Canada had to do to advance. A win would obviously be the best, but our pool was so congested that we could still advance even with a loss if we got the appropriate number of sets. In the end, we got the word from the team’s sport physiologist who I sat next to watching diving competitions—we had to end up with at least as many sets as Brazil, but at least one more set won than France in order to advance. The worst possible outcome would be a 5 set victory by France over Brazil.
Because activity in the city seemed more than usual, we left before 7 to make sure we would arrive on time for the opening introductions. It took longer than normal to get picked up by our uber driver and once we got into traffic, we discovered why. We advanced about two blocks over the next half hour. 8 o’clock came and went, and we were still only moving a car length every few minutes. Eventually our driver pulled off the main drag and dodged back and forth on back streets until we got back to the main thoroughfare. All the way there, we fidgeted thinking that we were going to be late for the match. Just before 8:30 we got into clear sailing and arrived at the facility shortly after warm-up had started.
The game got under way and Canada played strongly to win the first set 25-23. The next set went to Italy 25-17. The third set was Canada’s 25-16, and the final set clinched our move to the quarter finals with a win of 25-21. Gavin Schmidt was the high scorer for Canada with 25 kills. Alicia was up front and centre in Canada’s cheering section, with fan after fan coming over to take a picture with the sexy Canadian chick in the red and white wig. After the win, Alicia and I elbowed our way through the Brazilian fans to get a few minutes with Gord. Ruth somehow got lost in the crowd.
We just had to stay for the next match between Brazil and France to see who would not be advancing. It was now, a do or die ordeal, for both France and Brazil. It was a deafening experience with Brazilian fans literally raising the rooftop and motivating their players to excel. After Brazil won the first set 25-22, France came back to win the second, 25-22. For a bit, it looked like Brazil would be the loser, but although French played their hearts out, they ended up losing the next two sets 25-20 and 25-22. The victory was definitely one for the fans. They so overpowered any strengths that France displayed, that they would accept nothing else other than victory. After their soccer team has let them down so badly, the entire country is focused on their volleyball team.