Gdansk, Poland (Sept. 01): Canada played its FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship opener today, and fell to volleyball giants Russia in three sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-21) in Pool C, at the Ergo Arena.
Canada struck first and looked solid very early on, but couldn’t hold off the more steady Russians.
“Obviously it was a bit of a disappointing start for us for the tournament,” said Canada’s captain Fred Winters of Victoria, BC.
“I think everyone on our team would agree that Russia didn’t have its top, top level game, but in order to beat them we have to play great, and we didn’t play great today.”
He continued to explain: “I think if we had finished the first set a bit stronger – if we didn’t take the three aces in a row at the end – it could have been a different match. But in the end, like a lot of Russia’s matches, the guy who made the big difference was Dmitriy Muserskiy.”
The 2.18 m (approx. 7 ft 2 in) Muserskiy, who was top scorer with 18, often quieted the mostly pro-Canadian crowd with his consistent serving and attacking.
Russia coach Andrey Voronkov agreed that Muserskiy made a difference in the match. “It is obvious that Muserskiy was the star today, but we cannot favour any player. Further, we had some problems in the team because of injuries, which explains the absence of players such as Alexey Verbov and Maxim Mikhaylov. My goal with this team is to win every single match,” he said at today’s post-match press conference. “We have been preparing for a long time for this match, not only physically but psychologically. Canada turned out to be a very good team in defense. Our aim was to win in straight sets, as we did today and this was the maximum result we wanted to achieve, but some of the players did not show 100 percent of their skills and we have to work on it.”
Canada’s top scorer today was Saskatoon’s Gavin Schmitt, who contributed 11 points. The last time these teams met at an international event was at the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World League when Canada beat Russia in a five-set match.
“Russia (ranked 2nd in the world) is one of the favourites to win the tournament, so it’s obviously difficult to face them first,” said Creston, BC’s Gord Perrin, who contributed nine points today, after today’s match. “We did some good things, so if we can keep it going, we can win some games and make it to the next round.”
Glenn Hoag, Canada’s head coach, wants his team to move on from today’s loss: “For us, now our focus turns to the next match.”
Canada, currently ranked 15th in the world, is in Pool C, with Russia, Bulgaria, Egypt, China and Mexico. Next the team plays Bulgaria (ranked 8) on Sept. 03, then Egypt (17) on Sept. 05, Mexico (22) on Sept. 06 and China (19) on Sept. 07.
The world’s best 24 teams are in Poland following a qualifying process, which started in 2012, involving a record number of 279 countries, and concluded in July 2014.
The full schedule and more at http://poland2014.fivb.org/. Follow the timeline on twitter #FIVBMensWCH
In Canada and the U.S., matches are shown on the BeIN Sports channel or online at http://www.beinsportsconnect.tv/
Team Canada – 2014 World Men’s World Championships
# Name, Hometown
1 TJ Sanders, London, ON
18 Nicholas Hoag, Sherbrooke, QC
3 Dan Lewis, Oakville, ON
7 Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, AB
6 Justin Duff, Winnipeg, MB
8 Adam Simac, Ottawa, ON
9 Dustin Schneider, Brandon, MB
10 Toontje Van Lankvelt, Rivers, MB
12 Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon, SK
15 Fred Winters, Victoria, BC
17 Graham Vigrass, Calgary, AB
2 Gord Perrin, Creston, BC
5 Rudy Verhoeff, Calgary, AB
22 Steve Marshall, Abbotsford, BC
Glenn Hoag, head coach
Vincent Pichette, assistant coach
Lawrence McKay, assistant coach
Jean-Sebastien Hartell (therapist)
Elvan Murat Haktanir, statistician
Julien Boucher, team manager
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