Mac’s Sanders uses world stage for volleyball tune-up

While he hasn’t played a set in Maroon yet, McMaster setter T-J Sanders is already one of the most internationally experienced players on the team. Sanders has been named to represent Canada on the men’s junior national team for the second straight year and will compete at the World Junior Championship in Brazil, from July 31 to Aug. 10.

Selected from a player pool of 47 candidates from across Canada, Sanders is one of seven returning players from the 2010 junior national squad. “It was a good camp for me and as a returning player, I think that took any nervousness out of It.” says Sanders. “I expect all of us who played last year will take on leadership roles with the team.”

Originally from London, Sanders transferred to McMaster in 2010 after playing one season at the University of Manitoba. Canadian Interuniversity Sports transfer regulations mandated he sit out the 2010-11 season, but Sanders will be on the court for the Marauders this fall to help McMaster defend its Ontario University Athletics championship.

But before that he will be a key member of the Canadian team which will compete in the World Tournament for players born in 1991 or later.

“T-J has worked incredibly hard this year,” said McMaster coach Dave Preston. “Considering his situation of not being able to play for us, this is a great opportunity and he is very deserving.”

Last year, Sanders helped Canada finish second in zone-qualifying behind the USA, but that result was good enough to advance to this year’s World Junior Championships. “I’m pretty competitive and sitting on the sidelines has been tough,” added Sanders. “So I can’t wait to get on the court and play some meaningful games. We have a tough schedule this summer, but I think a reasonable goal is to get out of our pool and make the top-eight. Getting a medal is a possibility.”

In preparation for the World Championship, the Canadian junior team will head to competitions in Slovenia and Argentina, before settling in Brazil for the big event.

Preston says the time with Team Canada will only make Sanders a better player. “The experience of playing in a world championship and representing his country will be very important for both him and for our team.”