Grice eyes Asian finals

Casey Grice dives for a save during last month’s FIVB Fuzhou Open, where he and partner Cole Durant finished 17th. Picture: International Federation of Volleyball

Goldfields volleyball star Casey Grice says he can compete with the world's best after recording a top-20 finish at last month's International Volleyball Federation's Fuzhou Open.

Grice and partner Cole Durant progressed through the country quota, the single-elimination qualification and pool stages of the Chinese event, before losing in the main draw to finish 17th.

The WA pair, who entered the tournament as rank outsiders, fell to the fourth-ranked Canadian duo of John Binstock and Sam Schachter in three sets.

After taking out the opening set 21-18, the Australians could not capitalise on their opportunities with Binstock and Schachter winning the next two 17-21 10-15.

Despite the loss, Grice said he was pleased with how he and Durant took it to one of the best teams in the world.

"They won a world tour event in Qatar about six or seven months ago so they are an extremely strong team, but we really put them under pressure," he said.

"We won the first set quite convincingly, so we were a little bit disappointed because we had the opportunities to beat them but they were a bit more consistent.

"However, we're at a level now where we know we can compete with, and beat, some of the world's best teams.

"We have just got to bring our good performances more frequently and we'll be fine."

Despite dropping the match against the Canadians, advancing through the first three qualifying rounds meant they were ranked the number one Asian team for the tournament's main draw.

It was an important step in the pair's 2016 Olympic dream, as they need to be ranked the number one Asian team to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro games.

But they must first go through next year's Oceania championships and Asian finals, which they must win to qualify.

If they miss out they will head to the World Cup, right before the Olympics, as a last-ditch effort to realise their dream.

Grice said their track record of performing in pressure situations meant he had confidence as they continued to seek qualification.

"The Asian finals will be like no other event, we know that, so we're very focused on putting ourselves in a position where we're the strongest partnership there," he said.

"That's what we're working with the national team on doing, and we've shown we can handle the pressure and beaten quality teams so we definitely give ourselves a good chance."

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