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Langley Events Centre to host international volleyball

Inaugural U23 Pan American Volleyball Cup will be held in Langley Sept. 25 to 30
The Trinity Western Spartans celebrate winning the CIS national men's volleyball championship back in March. The Spartans, the two-time defending champs, will represent Canada in September at the U23 Pan American Cup, which will be held at the Langley Events Centre.

First hockey, then curling, and last month was basketball.

And coming in September, volleyball will be the latest international sport contested at the Langley Events Centre.

Langley will host the inaugural U23 Pan American men’s Volleyball Cup from September 25-30.

The announcement was made on Tuesday.

“On behalf of the Township of Langley, we are extremely excited to be hosting yet another major international event at the Langley Events Centre,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese.

“The facility was built to be a hub in our community and the U23 Pan American men’s Volleyball Cup will be a fantastic showcase for both the facility and our community.”

In the past eight months, the LEC has hosted three international competitions: the week-long World Junior A Hockey Challenge back in November; the four-day Continental Cup of Curling in January; and the opening game of the Jack Donohue International Classic between the Canadian and Chinese women’s national basketball teams last month.

The event is a new competition created jointly by the Norceca (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and  the South American Volleyball Confederation, and will feature between four and eight teams.

Some of the possible participants include Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The event will be held every two years and Canada was tabbed to host the inaugural edition, said John Blacher, the director of operations for Volleyball Canada’s indoor national teams.

And once the date was determined for late September, that ruled out Canada’s national B team, which concludes its season in late July.

“The timing didn’t fit a normal program that we had (so) one of the ideas we came up with was offering the competition to CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) schools for their consideration to host,” Blacher said.

Several schools expressed interest, but the combination of the LEC and the Trinity Western Spartans — the two-time defending national champions — was selected.

“There were a few schools that were keen to host (but) Langley was very aggressive in being involved,” Blacher said.  “They will represent Canada very well.”

This will be the second time the Spartans will represent Canada. Back in October, they played at the FIVB club world championships in Qatar, finishing 1-2 against the best pro teams in the world.

“As a group, to have every guy getting the chance to represent your country on home soil, in front of friends and fans, it’s an opportunity that’s a blessing,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson.

“This is a very important age group as it will help bridge the current gap between the level at which CIS athletes perform and the one needed to perform internationally,” said men’s U20 national team coach Glenn Hoag.

“It complements very well the already existing junior category (20 and under) and it is important to have the support of CIS institutions in order for us to field a team every year in these events. Trinity Western University will represent Canada very well at this event as they will feature several athletes from our B and junior national team programs.”

The competition will be staged in the LEC’s arena bowl.

“We have had success with Trinity Western and volleyball in the past,” said Jared Harman, the LEC director of business development, referring to when the university hosted the CIS national championships at the LEC in 2011.

“And we just thought it would be a great opportunity to host an event like this.”