Gdansk, Poland, September 3, 2014 – Canada’s Gavin Schmitt led a team effort in a thrilling five-set (3-2) win over Bulgaria (17-25, 25-17, 20-25, 26-24, 15-8) in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship at the Ergo Arena today.
Schmitt, of Saskatoon, Sask., faced off against Bulgarian star Tsvetan Sokolov (both had 22 points in the match), and came out on top with the hard work of the Canadian squad supporting him.
“I’m really happy about the win – we played like a team with a lot of heart, we never gave up,” said Schmitt. “They are a very difficult team and a good team, but everyone (on our side) came together today. It was really a character win. We raised our level from the last match, getting more comfortable. Moving forward, we can work on our serving a bit more – that will benefit us – and then try to take each game one at a time.”
It was the Canadians’ second day of play in Pool C of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship – on Monday Canada fell to number-two ranked Russia, one of the tournament favourites, in three sets.
“Our team has been working at bouncing back after bad performances – we did it pretty well during World League – we’d lose then come back strong,” Canada’s captain Fred Winters (Victoria, BC) said during the post-match press conference. “Although it was a hard-fought win, a win is a win, and we are very happy to get two points. I think our guys did a really great job today on one of their best players – we were able to control him a little bit, and just not stop fighting…. It’s up for grabs now – second, third place in our pool. So we just have to go after it and get it.” Canada needs to finish at least fourth in its pool to advance.
Canada looked solid at the beginning of the first set as they cruised to an 8-2 lead at the first technical timeout. Then the Canadian squad let the Bulgarians take over to come back and win the first, by eight points.
“Our start of the match was great and then we kind of lost our way,” said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag. “Bulgaria came up with some big serves and got us in trouble. (Setter) Dustin (Schneider) came in and brought us some stability, putting Gavin back in the game.”
From there the battle was on, until Canada forced a fifth set against this Bulgarian team, who are currently ranked eighth in the world, compared with 15th for Canada.
Bulgaria and Canada started the tie-breaking fifth fairly even, but Bulgaria was eventually stifled by Schmitt, Justin Duff (Winnipeg) and Gord Perrin (Creston, BC) on the attack.
“We’re not necessarily great at all things, but as a group when we are able to fight, we come up with a winning performance,” said Hoag, whose son, Nick, also put in a solid effort for Canada. “It doesn’t have to look good, but when it can earn us some points, it’s great. There’s a lot of volleyball to be played here (at the Worlds), a lot of points to be lost or won, so we have to focus on the next match.”
Canada now plays its next Pool C opponent, Egypt (17 in the world rankings) on Sept. 05, then 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 Championship
# 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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