Canada earns impressive win over Finland in World League


Louis Daignault (ISN)

June 28, 2013, TAMPERE, Finland (ISN) – Canada secured an important victory Friday beating Finland 3-1 in a World League men’s volleyball Pool C match (25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20).

Canada played an efficient, well balanced game, mixing raw power with soft touches, classy defense-splitting serves and a good defense of its own. The team managed to build up easy finishes for points at a bigger rate than the hosts whose game in comparison was a bit one-dimensional.

With three points from the win, Canada moved to lead Pool C with 15 points (five wins and two losses) ahead of the Netherlands at 13. The Dutch have one game in hand. The Canadians also upped the margin over third-place Finland to six points. Only the first place team in pool C advances to the World League finals.

“Our goal to go to the final round is still very much alive, we are in the first place and it’s great,” said Canada’s captain Fred Winters. “We’ve done this now five times, winning the first game in a one-week series. We seem to play really well the first night, and not so good the second. Hopefully that will change tomorrow.”

Canada’s left-handed hitter Dallas Soonias was a star in the game finishing with 17 points, constantly keeping the Finns guessing, while Rudy Verhoeff, 12 points, and John Gordon Perrin, 14 points, were prominent too. Winters had 12 points.

“We acted with very good focus, and our captain was very involved, he led us quite a bit,” said Canada’s coach Glenn Hoag. “He is not a loud person, but steady, which is important in a team. We have good athletes and play good level volleyball. Finland did not play so well and we exploited it, but they’ll come stronger tomorrow so we have to be ready.”

For Finland, Mikko OIvanen spiked 18 points, with twin brother Matti starring in the blocks with 12 points.

In the first set, Finland had problems returning, especially with Verhoeff on the serve. The Canadians also showed a smart finishing, varying the pace of the ball. A few tremendous defensive lunges, and the ability to keep errors at a minimum, Canadians won the set, 25-13.

“It was a nice game by Canada, but it is hard to find explanations for our bad start to the game, getting problems in easy situations,” said Finland’s coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. “Canada was passing our serves very well, an amazing side out. And we got blocked by the center, one on one. Our side out cannot be like this, without being better there, it is difficult to play.”

Finland hung on in the second set winning 25-22, with spikers Mikko Oivanen and Urpo Sivula picking up their game. Soonias hit well from the right outside position, but after Canada led 16-14 at the second technical time out Finland started getting blocking points and more Canadian blocks.

In the third set, Canada regrouped to lead 8-4 and 16-13 at the technical time-outs and held off Finland to take a 2-1 lead, with the skillful Soonias finishing the set with two delightful open-hand tips delivered with feathery touch just over the net cord, Canada taking the set 25-21.

After trailing 5-4, Canada brought the victory home in a secure fashion, winning the fourth 25-20.

The two teams face each other again on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and will be carried live on on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific (National) and Tape delayed on Sportsnet One @ 5 p.m.

Canada’s World League roster for matches June 28-29 in Tampere, Finland and July 6-7 in Osaka, Japan.

Players: Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Louis-Pierre Mainville, Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile Perrot, Que.; Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Blair Bann, Edmonton; Fred Winters, Victoria; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man.; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Jason Derocco, East St. Paul, Man.; Rudy Verhoeff, Calgary; Justin Duff, Winnipeg; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Graham Vigrass, Calgary.

Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau, Que.

Team manager : Julien Boucher, Quebec City

Statistician : Murat Haktanir

Therapist: Mathieu Séguin and