Canadian Men Win Group, but Fall to Finland in Five
Canada ended its FIVB World League Group 2 campaign with a loss to its host, Finland in five sets: 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13) in Tampere on Sunday.
Undefeated until today, Canada still wins its group (eight wins and 24 points) and advances to the Final Four in Portugal.
On Sunday, Sauli Sinkkonen and Jan Helenius of Finland scored 15 points each. The top scorer for Canada was Nicholas Hoag with 18 points. Before the match Finland had still a chance to qualify for Final Four, but they needed a 3-0 win over Canada.
“We’re disappointed by the end after winning eight matches in a row obviously,” said Canada’s captain, Fred Winters. “You have to give Finland credit. They played very well. They put a lot of pressure on us with their service. I don’t think we were prepared as well as we could have been for that.”
The opening set was a tough fight. Both sides went back and forth, and the set was still tied at 21-21. Finland served and attacked well taking the next three points. The final point for Finland came with Canada’s spike in the net.
Canada came back and got a great start to set two leading soon 4-0 and 9-3, then cruising to an easy 25-18 victory. Nicholas Hoag’s spike sealed the set.
Set three was a different story: The set was tied at 8-8, but after that Finland gained control. Young opposite player Antti Ropponen came from the bench to score seven points. Finland closed the set at 25-20.
Canada mounted another strong comeback in set four. They kept control of the game and Finland was struggling a bit in attack. Canada wrapped up the set at 25-21.
Finland had a strong start to the tiebreak taking a 3-0 lead. Canada tied the score at 4-4 and the set was still tied at 13-13. Jan Helenius spiked to make it 14-13 for Finland. A strong kill block by Tommi Siirilä and Eemi Tervaportti closed out the set and the match went to Finland.
Canada’s coach Glenn Hoag summarized: “I think it was an exciting match for fans. Finland played well. We missed a lot of executions on simple things, we had mental lapses as well. That is going to happen so this is good for me to see so we can try to fix it on our road to Rio. Every game counts now for our preparation. Obviously, it wasn’t enough for a win but now we need to turn our focus to Portugal next weekend.”