Five Manitobans have secured spots on the 24-member women's national volleyball team and will represent Canada at a trio of international competitions this summer.
Brandon's Lisa Barclay will be putting on the maple leaf for the third time. She's travelled to Mexico and China in previous stints with the national team, but the idea of competing against the best players in the world never gets old.
"Lots of these places I would have never gone to on my own," Barclay said. "Volleyball has given me the chance to see all of these places and it's definitely an amazing experience each time."
Barclay and 11 other members of the squad will leave for Lima, Peru, on June 7 to compete in the annual Pan Am Cup. They will also participate in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia (July 6-16), the NORCECA Championships in Omaha, Neb., (Sept. 14-22) and the Canada Cup series in Winnipeg (Aug. 19-23).
Dauphin's Tabi Love will join Barclay in what will be her first time representing Canada. But it won't be her first time playing outside the country.
After graduating from high school in Dauphin, Love played NCAA volleyball for Minnesota and UCLA. She graduated college in December and went on to play professional volleyball in Puerto Rico.
"It was a lot of fun. I think Puerto Rico was a great transition league and so it took everything that I had learned from playing in the NCAA and put it at that next level," Love said.
The next level is admittedly different from the college game, but it's something Barclay, Love and the rest of the team can adjust to.
"It's different in the sense because the players are a lot older here. And since we are professional athletes there's just a bit of a different mindset. It's a lot more businesslike," Love said.
"With the national program, the girls are older and out of school. It's kind of their job and they play pro throughout the year," Barclay said. "Coming into the summer it's just a job for them. But then when you get with the team and start playing with them for a while you don't think of age."
After the 2012 Olympics, many of Canada's veteran players retired leaving head coach Arnd Ludwig with a younger crew.
"This is a very inexperienced team so far and it will be a learning process to see what it takes to play at a high level, that's one of the goals. We need to learn what we need to work on over the next few years," he said. "Another goal is to get used to the training load it takes to compete at a high level. It's not something that some of them are used to yet so we need to get them in training mode."
Both Barclay and Love are prepared to train in hopes of being part of an Olympic team in the future.
"I think I can bring physicality to the court and I can bring the little bit of experience that I have from playing professionally," Love said. "But I think I've played on a lot of different teams with a lot of different people, so even though I haven't been in an international match before at this level, I still think I'll be able to contribute in different ways."