Louis Daignault (ISN) – Photos courtesy of FIVB
July 18 2013, MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (ISN) – Canada’s national men’s volleyball team produced one of the biggest victories in its history Thursday upsetting Olympic champion Russia in five sets in its opening match in the FIVB World League Final.
“I’m very happy with the win, it’s a big step for us to come here,” said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que. ”Our program has evolved in the last six years and this is a great accomplishment.
”The guys are confident about competing against any team, they’re not scared of anybody, they have faith in the system we play with.”
Team celebrates Thursday’s win – Photo courtesy of FIVB
The Canadians overcame a 0-2 deficit in sets to take the match 20-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11. To give an idea of the enormity of the upset, Canada is ranked 18th in the world and Russia second. The Russians were playing their 73rd World League Final match while Canada was playing its first.
“In the third and fourth sets they gave us opportunities, made more mistakes, they weren’t serving as hard,” said Canadian team captain Fred Winters of Victoria. ”The pressure was on them. They had to beat us. We just played great in the last three sets.”
Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., led the Canadian attack with 20 points, Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon, who missed the last five matches due to a leg injury, added 13 and Winters chipped in 11.
Despite dropping the first two sets the Canadians seemed to be improving and by the end of the third Schmitt, Perrin and Winters gave as good as they got and soon the underdogs held a 22-20 lead. Russia successfully challenged a spike in to make it 22-21 but Schmitt was Canada’s go to man with a cross court spike before Winters finished a terrific rally with his own attack to seal Canada’s first ever set win against Russia in the modern scoring era.
“I wasn’t so happy with the way the guys played [at the start], we were overdoing things,” said Hoag. ”I just wanted them to play the way we practise, the way we’ve been playing lately. Russia is a great serving team and a very good attacking team so we needed to be very disciplined on our blocking and we were lacking discipline and we made errors early.”
In the fourth, the oldest player at the World League Finals, Canadian libero Daniel Lewis, 37, of Oakville, Ont., along with Winters defended like demons at the back court and the Russians were unable to break down the Canadian block and Canada soon snatched a second set win after a Russian spike went disappointingly into the net.
In the fifth, Russia went up 7-3 but Canada just wasn’t going to give up. They slowly pulled it back to 7-7 thanks to blocks by Adam Simac of Ottawa, who also baffled the Russians all night with his floating serves, and Graham Vigrass of Calgary before some great serving from Rudy Verhoeff of Calgary put Russia under severe pressure.
An ace, a wide spike and a bad reception by Russia, and a Simac block gave Canada match point 14-10 on Verhoeff’s serve. Russia saved one match point before Joshua Howatson of Victoria blocked the final point for the historic celebrations to begin.
“I think Russia might have been confident leading 7-2 in the 5th set,” said Hoag. ”I got mad at the guys because we were all over the place in that fifth set at the beginning. I said ‘One pass, one set, everybody execute technically well,’ and they did that.”
The Canadians reached the final by placing first in group C during the preliminary round with a record of eight wins and two losses. The have now won seven straight matches with Thursday’s win.
In the Pool E World League Final standings, Russia (1-1) is first with three points, Canada (1-0) second with two and Brazil (0-1) third at 1 point. In five set matches the winning team gets two points and the loser one. Russia beat Brazil in five on Wednesday.
In Pool D, Bulgaria (1-0) is first with three points while Argentina (0-1) and Italy (0-0) have no points. Italy faces Bulgaria later Thursday. The top-two in each group advance to the semis on Saturday.
The Canadians face the number-one ranked Brazilians on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (EDT Sportsnet One).
“You can’t get into a match against Brazil with expectations, just go and play,” said Winters. ”If you expect to win or play well it’s not going to go your way, you just have to play point by point.”
More than $5.7 millions is up for grabs in the 24th edition of the intercontinental tournament.
Sportsnet will carry both of Team Canada’s round robin matches live as well as the semis and championship match. Here is the broadcast schedule. All matches will also be streamed on FIVB WEB TV http://www.laola1.tv/en/int/fivb-live/video/203-1922-.html
World League Finals
Canada vs. Brazil
Friday, July 19th @15:30 EST live on Sportsnet One; Encore 21:00 EST on Sportsnet One
Saturday, July 20th – live on Sportsnet One @ 15:30 EST
Semi Final #2
Saturday, July 20th – live on Sportsnet One @ 19:00 EST
Final (#1 vs #2)
Sunday, July 21st – live on Sportsnet One @ 19:00 EST
Final (#3 vs #4)
Sunday, July 21st – tape delayed on Sportsnet One @ 21:30 EST
Team Canada roster for 2013 FIVB World League Final men’s volleyball tournament:
Players: Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Louis-Pierre Mainville, Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile-Perrot, Que.; Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Blair Bann, Edmonton; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Fred Winters, Victoria; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man.; Jason Derocco, East St. Paul, Man.; Rudy Verhoeff, Calgary; Justin Duff, Winnipeg; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Graham Vigrass, Calgary.
Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Sherbrooke, Que.
Assistant coaches: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau, Que.; Georges Laplante, Montreal.
Team manager : Julien Boucher, Quebec City
Statistician: Murat Haktanir, Izmir, Turkey
Physiotherapist : Mathieu Seguin, Hawkesbury,