NOVI SAD, Serbia: In its second five-set win in as many days, Canada defeated the U.S. 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-23, 15-11) today in FIVB World League play in Serbia.
“I’m very satisfied by the victory,” Canada’s head coach Stephane Antiga told the host broadcaster after the match. “It was difficult and still we are committing too many mistakes, but I’m happy. We didn’t give up and we found solutions at the most important times today.”
It was back and forth for these two North American squads, both with an injection of young players in the post-Olympic year. Canada looked confident coming into the match, but the US (ranked 2nd in the world) managed to stay relatively composed to win the first set, while Canada regrouped in the second. Just when it looked like Canada had lost a lot of energy, coach Antiga made some player substitutions, including bringing in Steve Marshall in as libero, and the momentum again switched to the Canadian side to even the match at 2-2. A crucial net-touch challenge by Canada in the tie-break went against the U.S., making it 8-6 at the side switch and then 15-11 at the end of the set.
Brad Gunter, playing in his first ever World League tournament, was Canada’s top scorer with 17 points; while Benjamin Patch looked very solid for the U.S., also with 17 points.
Also a big part of the win was team veteran Gord Perrin, with 15 points, and strong leadership on the court.
Canada and the U.S., both with different lineups, last met at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio when Canada pulled off an upset (3-0) in the opener. The U.S., however, went on to win the bronze medal, and Canada finished fifth.
Yesterday, Canada beat Belgium 3-2, and the U.S. fell to Serbia in four sets. Canada plays host Serbia on Sunday, June 04.
The CAN-USA match will also be replayed on CBC TV at 4 pm EDT. on June 03.
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