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O'Reilly sets the tone for women's v-ball nats

Game schedule

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Lauren O'REILLY has the fortunes of Canada's national women's volleyball team at her fingertips.

Though it sounds like a heavy load for the 22-year-old setter from Langley, B.C., O'Reilly brings the same amount of international experience to the floor as every other member of Team Canada's senior team.

As the starting setter since 2009 when Canada qualified for 2010 FIVB World Championship, O'Reilly will lead the Winnipeg-based team starting today in a series of exhibition matches against Argentina's national women's team.

"Starting at worlds was a huge experience for me. It's my third year with Lupo (Arnd Ludwig) as the head coach and I do feel like they have confidence in me," said O'Reilly, who came to Winnipeg last spring to work with Ludwig and assistant coach Scott Koskie.

"I've been here since March at the full-time training centre working on more technical things, because this is a big summer for our team with the (Olympic) qualification (process beginning)."

Ludwig said O'Reilly's combination of youth and experience is important to Team Canada since one of his goals when he became coach in was to build a core group of players.

"Her strength is definitely her physicality," Ludwig said of the 5-foot-10 O'Reilly. "She is fast, she is quick with the ball, she is technically very good. She reads the game very well and in addition to setting, she is a good blocker and a good defender, so she is the whole package."

Canada's other setter is Carla Bradstock, who has played professionally in Azerbaijan, and was also part of Canada's 2010 worlds team.

"For many of our players, the world championship was the first time they had seen volleyball outside of the American continent and we didn't have one player who had ever played at the world championship," Ludwig said. "Now we have 14 players who were there and are still with us."

Against Argentina, O'Reilly said the Canadians need to work on limiting unforced errors.

"Because we've competed at the worlds, now we've seen the top teams and level that we need to strive to," said O'Reilly. "Those (top) teams just don't make errors. We've talked about this as a team, about not making errors after 20 (reaching 20 points in a set, with 25 needed to win a set) because the top teams don't make errors."

O'Reilly, a player with Trinity Western University Spartans, is planning to finish her bachelor of human kinetics degree with on-line courses.

"I love volleyball so much and I am so passionate about it that I'd rather do this as my full-time job right now," she said.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

CANADA'S national women's volleyball team is hosting Argentina's national team in a four-game exhibition series in Winnipeg and Brandon:

Today: Investors Group Athletic Centre, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: IGAC, noon

Sunday: IGAC, 3 p.m.

Monday: Brandon University, 12:30 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2011 C8

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