Canada tops Chile in a five-set thriller to lead Pool A at U21

GATINEAU, Canada, – Canada topped Chile in a five-set thriller (25-21,25-22,21-25, 20-25, 15-11) on Thursday to finish on top of Pool A and guarantee a spot in the semifinals at the U21 Men’s Pan American Cup, held at the Centre Sportif de Gatineau.

The host team got off to a good start against the combative South American team. Led by the quartet of Brandon Koppers, Blake Scheerhoorn, captain Ryan Nickifor and Arthur Szwarc, they managed to keep a narrow lead over Chile to take the first two sets 25-21 and 25-22.The third and fourth sets remained even, but Chile got the upper hand, and won 25-21 and 25-20 to even the score and set the stage for the tie-breaker.In the decisive set, two aces by Scheerhoorn and Nickifor  back on court after resting in the fourth set – put Canada in the lead 6-4. Effective blocking allowed the Canadians to stop the Chilean attack and they went on to win 15-11 and secure their second victory of the tournament.Scheerhoorn led the winners’ attack with 18 points. He was also supported by Nickifor and Koppers with 15 each and Szwarc (11). Captain Dusan Bonacic (24) and Simón Guerra (11) were the top scorers for Chile.Ryan Nickifor, captain of team Canada, said: “I think we just need to sustain our energy level throughout the whole game a little bit better. We came out in the third a little bit tentative and we need to keep pushing throughout every set. It’s good that we have guys that can come off the bench and fill spots if guys aren’t playing their role. Moving forward we just need to sustain our energy for longer and we’ll come out on top.”Canada’s head coach John Barrett said: “We started off really well and were playing with a lot of confidence. Chile pushed back and we knew they were a good team; they’re well coached and very technical. … We lost our confidence and started playing in a tentative manner. When you play in a tentative manner you will lose. It’s that simple. In any sport at any time victory goes to the aggressor. We got our mood back and played aggressively and came out with the fifth set. We are very happy to win against a good team from Chile.”Daniel Nejamkin, head coach of Chile: “It was a close match. I believe the aces were the determining factor. We served well and put pressure on the Canadian reception, but Canada scored more points in serve. We will now focus on tomorrow’s match. We want to reach the semifinals and a podium finish here.”Undefeated in their respective groups, Canada and Brazil await the winners of the quarterfinals to know their rivals in the semifinals on Saturday. The tournament continues Friday with two quarterfinal matches:  Chile-Barbados and the United States-Mexico.
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
Brock Davidiuk
Vincenzo Mallia
Dave McAllister

All games will be held at the gym at:
Centre sportif de Gatineau
850 boul. de la Gappe
Gatineau, Quebec

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