NOVI SAD, SERBIA: Belgium could not hold off a young Canadian roster in today’s FIVB World League opener in Serbia, but it took five long sets 2-3 (22-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-23, 13-15).
“As a new coach, it’s the first official victory for me, so I’m very happy,” said Canada’s head coach Stephane Antiga, after today’s contest. “The win was hard, but it was a very important and positive win for us. We don’t know what to expect tomorrow (against the U.S.) because there are a lot of new players on their roster, and then Serbia is a big favourite in this group, so we’ll see what happens.”
Today 2016 Olympian Gord Perrin, also now serving as team captain, was Canada’s top scorer with 21 points. The match top scorer was Bram Van Den Dries who recorded 26 points for Belgium.
Canada led in blocks (13 points), with strong performances by Dan Jansen Vandoorn and Graham Vigrass, while Belgium recorded only five off the block total. Belgium had a slightly better performance on the service line, with seven aces – two each by Bram Van Den Dries and Simon Van De Voorde.
Canada came out looking strong to win the first, followed by a disorganized second set. Junior team star Sharone Vernon-Evans sparked the team’s performance when he entered the match in the second half. From there, it was a fairly even affair, until Canada closed the deal in the tie-breaker.
Perrin admitted to www.fivb.com that the team is still working out its kinks: “We are a young team, so we were struggling a little bit, but that is normal because we are still building our game. I think we’re going to improve a lot and this is a promising start for us in World League.”
Canada plays the U.S. tomorrow at 10 am Eastern in Serbia. The match will also be shown on CBC TV at 4 pm EDT.
Athletes (travelling roster):
TJ Sanders – Setter (London, ON)
Brett Walsh – Setter (Calgary, AB)
Blair Bann – Libero (Edmonton, AB)
Steve Marshall – Libero (Abbotsford, BC)
Graham Vigrass – Middle (Calgary, AB)
Lucas Van Berkel – Middle (Edmonton, AB)
Arthur Szwarc – Middle (Toronto, ON)
Daniel Jansen VanDoorn – Middle (Langley, BC)
Jason DeRocco – Left Side (Winnipeg, MB)
Gord Perrin – Left Side (Creston, BC)
Stephen Maar – Left Side (Aurora, ON)
Ryley Barnes – Left Side (Edmonton, AB)
Sharone Vernon-Evans – Opposite (Scarborough, ON)
Brad Gunter – Opposite (Courtenay, BC)
Stephane Antiga, head coach
Daniel Lewis, assistant coach
Georges Laplante, assistant coach
Lionel Bonnaure, statistician
Jean-Sebastien Hartell, therapist
Julien Boucher, team manager