FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA: Canada experienced its first loss against powerhouse Brazil Thursday night at the U21 Pan American Cup at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre at Keyano College in Fort McMurray.
Canada was shaky at the start, but showed promise in a solid second set, only to eventually fall to the South Americans 1-3 (17-25, 25-21, 20-25, 14-25) to wrap up the group play today.
Nery Tambeiro Jr, Brazil’s coach, said: “It was a very good game. We played strong and took advantage of our height. We were worried the whole game, and not only after losing the second set: Canada is a good team and I don’t think tonight’s loss is a big problem for them because I’m sure that if we face each other again during the finals, it will be a total different game.”
Henrique Honorato was Brazil’s top scorer with 18, but again is was a solid effort by the whole roster.
“We told our guys this morning that Brazil was going to come out strong. But it doesn’t matter what we say, as they are young and inexperienced. It happened last year against Cuba. We all know that Brazil is one of the top volleyball countries and have more experience together than us,” said Canada’s head coach Gino Brousseau.
“We are disappointed at the last set, but tomorrow is another day. We have to get ready for Chile. My players fought and they did well, especially in the second set. We are on a good track.”
Manitoban Eric Loeppky was Canada’s top scorer with 20, followed by Sharone Vernon-Evans (Scarborough, ON) with 11, including three aces.
“In the beginning it took us a little bit to get used to how they play,” said Canada’s captain, Matthew Mawdsley of London, Ontario. “But in the second set we came out and played our game, our side, and then we lost a bit of that momentum in the third and fourth. I think if we focus on our side for the rest of the tournament, we shouldn’t have a problem.”
Brazil has qualified for the U21 World Championships as the top South American country at this tournament. Canada still has some work to do if they are to win the NORCECA berth to the Worlds.
May 16 (local time)
12:00 Cuba v Chile 3-0
18:00 Brazil v Barbados 3-0
20:00 Canada v Guatemala 3-0
16:00 Chile v Puerto Rico 1-3
18:00 Guatemala v Brazil 0-3
20:00 Canada v Barbados 3-0
16:00 Puerto Rico v Cuba 0-3
18:00 Barbados v Guatemala 1-3
20:00 Canada v Brazil 1-3