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Canadian women struggle in return to Volleyball Nations League, drop 3 sets to Italy

The Canadian women's volleyball team's push for Olympic qualification hit a snag Tuesday with a lopsided 3-0 loss to Italy in Volleyball Nations League action.

The Italians, ranked fourth in the world, posted set scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-14 in the dominant win in Fukuoka, Japan.

Italy's Paola Egonu led all scorers with 18 points.

Kiera Van Ryk of Surrey, B.C., had 13 points for Canada, which fell to 5-4 in VNL play.

"Italy is an exceptional team, I'd say one of the strongest teams we have faced so far this year," said Canada head coach Shannon Winzer. "We didn't play to our full potential for sure, and that is disappointing.

"No one wants to lose like that, but [the] margin of error becomes even smaller against a team like that."

Italy led 37-30 in attack points, 11-1 in blocks and 7-2 in points from serves. Canada lost eight more points to errors than Italy (20-12).

WATCH | Full replay coverage — Canada vs. Italy:

"We struggled on first contact, we struggled on attack. It just wasn't a good game at our end," Winzer said. "The best thing we can do is take what we can from it and move on as quickly as possible. What we do next is the most important thing."

The 10th-ranked Canadian women are still vying for a place at this summer's Olympics in Paris.

Seven women's teams have already qualified. The remaining spots will go to the top five unqualified teams in the FIVB rankings at the end of the VNL preliminary phase.

Canada next faces host Japan on Thursday.

WATCH | Will Canada's women's volleyball return to Olympics for the 1st time since 1996?: