Report by Javier Clavelo
photo: Phil MacCallum
GATINEAU, Canada, June 23, 2015 – Canada took the lead in Pool A of the U21 Men’s Pan American Cup with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-14) victory over Mexico Tuesday at the Centre Sportif de Gatineau.
Both teams, who will play the World Championships this September in Mexico, played very evenly in the first two sets. Mexico overcame a 13-16 deficit and took advantage of some mistakes by the host country to take the lead 19-17. With the score 23-23, Canada sealed the victory following a failed serve by their opponents and an ace by Blake Scheerhoorn.
Both teams continued to play at a similar level, but Canada finished strong 25-23 with an ace by Arthur Szwarc.
The host squad played more effectively in the third set and their strong serve and blocking was crucial in securing a 25-14 victory and 3-0 win overall.
Brandon Koppers led the Canadian attack with 11 points, one more than Blake Scheerhoorn. Alan Martinez (8 points) and Yostin Frias (7) were the leading scorers for Mexico.
Enrique Ugalde, captain of Mexico: “Overall, we had a good game. The first two sets were close. We felt the absence of our main setter, who could not travel here, but we need to adjust accordingly. The first two sets, it could have gone either way. But in the third set, we some our focus at times. Canada made less mistakes and served harder. We showed today we can be competitive against a top team like Canada. This first match allowed us to know where we are at and we have great expectations for our next match against Chile tomorrow to continue progressing in this tournament. Hosting the World Championships also gives us extra motivation to perform well.”
Victor Porras, head coach of Mexico: “We had two good sets, but we need to close strong. The game showed us we can play at par with strong teams like Canada. We need to adjust a few things and the lack of international experience in some players was also seen today. Our players understand the importance of the next game and will prepare to perform better tomorrow.”
John Barrett, head coach of Canada: “We played a very nervous first match of the tournament at home which I think is very normal for a team at this stage. We’ve done a little bit of training but we haven’t played much competition so I would say this is an expected match and I’m very happy to win it, and have won it 3-0. I’m happy we had the chance to play more than our starting six or seven players. A good start, we’re going to get better and hopefully quickly.”
Ryan Nickifor, captain of Canada: “I think we came out a little nervous and shaky and it took us a little while to get the nerves out but once that happened I thought we played really well in the third. Moving on I think we can play a little more free and a little bit better. It was a big thing getting the first game out of the way. I’m excited for the rest of the week, we have a deep bench and it’s very exciting to compete finally after three weeks of training and seeing it all come together.”
Mexico returns to the court on Wednesday to face Chile, the other team in Pool A. Canada’s next game will be against the South American team on Thursday.
Webcasting will be available on June 26, 27 and 28 at www.volleyballsource.net. More info will also be available at www.norceca.net.
Canada’s U21 Roster:
Gabriel Chancy, Montréal QC
Brandon Koppers, Georgetown ON
Irvan Brar, Surrey BC
Blake Scheerhoorn, Belleville ON
Lucas Coleman, Brooklin ON
Ryan Nickifor, Sherwood Park AB
Arthur Szwarc, Toronto ON
Andrew Richards, London ON
Olivier Riopel, Gatineau QC
Byron Keturakis, Surrey BC
Arran Chambers, Edmonton AB
Keith West, Lethbridge AB
Joel Regehr, Courtenay BC
John Barrett, head coach
All games will be held at the gym at:
Centre sportif de Gatineau
850 boul. de la Gappe
The full schedule can be downloaded here :
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Report by Javier Clavelo, photo: Phil MacCallum