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Canadian women's volleyball team advances in qualifying tournament

Bench strength did the job as Canada easily defeated Honduras 25-9, 25-8, 25-10 on Tuesday. They advance to the quarterfinals at the eight-country Olympic qualifying tournament in women's volleyball in Tijuana, Mexico.

With the victory Canada concludes the round robin portion of the tournament with a win and two losses for third place in Group A. Canada, ranked 22nd in the world, will either face Mexico (27th internationally) or Cuba (10th) in Wednesday's quarterfinal. Mexico and Cuba face each other for first spot in Group B later Tuesday night.

The winner of the tournament earns a ticket to the 2012 London Games.

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"We played our second line-up most of the game and they did a good job," said Canada's head coach Arnd Ludwig. Setter Kelci French of Okotoks, Alta., made her international debut with the national team.

Kyla Richey of Vancouver was the top Canadian scorer with 16 points, Tonya Mokelki of Weyburn, Sask., added 15 and Marisa Field of Vancouver 14. The Canadian served 13 aces and out-blocked Honduras 10-2.

Mokelki, who hadn't played in the first two matches, was pleased to be involved in Canada's first win of the tournament.

"There's a lot of excitement on the team right now and we are looking forward to our next match," she said. "It was a fortunate break today that we had chance to rest some of our top players and the way played today really helped the team."

Top Canadian scorers Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., and Tammy Mahon of Holland, Man., both took the opportunity to rest for Wednesday's big match.

Canada's quarterfinal is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday and will be streamed on-line at

If Canada gets past that game, it has a semifinal match Friday. The final is set for Saturday.

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James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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