Calgary, AB: Canada won its first match of the season in straight sets over Cuba 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 26-24). Gavin Schmitt scored a game-high 17 points, and fittingly earned the final kill of the match to help Canada win the Pool C match.
“We stayed pretty aggressive, we stayed patient and started to manage balls a lot better. They didn’t play as well as I think they can, and I think they’ll come out banging a little more tomorrow,” said Schmitt. “I remember a couple of years ago, we’d get together at this point and it would take us weeks to iron things out. To be able to come out and play Cuba like this and get a win after so little training shows how far we’ve been able to come.”
In front of a noisy crowd of 6,400 fans at the Corral at Stampede Park, Canada got off to a strong start, racing out to a 6-1 lead in the opening set. Cuba evened things up at 12-12 but Canada again pulled away, with Schmitt picking up four successful attacks and an ace in the 25-20 first-set win. Cuba’s Lazaro Raydel Fundora Travieso was also impressive with four attacks of his own and a block.
The visitors responded in the second set and worked their way to a 6-3 advantage. Canada regained composure after the technical timeout, going on a 4-1 run to lead 10-9. Then Cuba suffered a scary moment with Fundora injured his knee and needed to be carried from the floor. Canada wrapped up the second 25-19.
The third set involved more dominance from Schmitt, with the opposite equally as impressive on attack as on the block. Cuba wasn’t intimidated and took a 23-21 lead, but they couldn’t capitalize on two set points and extend the match beyond three sets. Schmitt took the final point of the evening as Canada won the set 26-24 and the match 3-0.
“It was a very difficult game because we haven’t played for a while, since five months ago and this is the first game that they have,” Rolando Abreu, captain of Cuba’s team. “We (the players) make a lot of mistakes at the beginning and throughout the match and also couldn’t win the second set because they make a lot of mistakes. As World League keeps going we will be able to elevate the performance and be able to win some games.”
Said Canada’s coach Glenn Hoag: “The result was good for us, we did a lot of good things, but we can see we have a lot of work ahead of us too. There is a lot of fine-tuning, it’s going to take time.”
There is a re-match in Calgary tomorrow, with tickets still available at www.ticketmaster.ca
World League Roster
Dustin Schneider, Brandon, MB
Graham Vigrass, Calgary, AB
Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon, SK
Gord Perrin, Creston, BC
Toon Van Lankvelt, Rivers, MB
Frederic Winters, Victoria, BC
Steven Marshall, Abbotsford, BC
TJ Sanders, London, ON
Rudy Verhoeff, Calgary, AB
Nicholas Hoag, Sherbrooke, QC
Dan Lewis, Oakville, ON
Adam Simac, Ottawa, ON
Josh Howatson, Victoria, BC
Justin Duff, Winnipeg, MB
Glenn Hoag, Head Coach
Vincent Pichette, Assistant Coach
Larry McKay, Assistant Coach
Mathieu Seguin, Physiotherapist
Julien Boucher, High Performance Director
Murat Haktanir, Statistician