Varna, Bulgaria: Canada came out fighting and held its own under pressure from the host team, Bulgaria, tonight to record at 3-1 win in FIVB World League Group 1 action.
The final set scores were 27-25, 30-28, 21-25, 25-23, with 2016 Olympian Gord Perrin contributing 24 points for Canada in the thrilling match.
“It’s easy to say I am satisfied after a victory, and I will have to analyze this after I watch the video, but in my opinion we played excellent volleyball,” said Canada’s head coach Stephane Antiga. “Against Bulgaria, we played much better than yesterday (against Brazil). There were not as many mistakes and by far this was our best game this season.”
Canada fought hard in the first two sets to not let the Bulgarians feel they had the upper hand, and then edging the home team out by two points in each set. However, in the third, the Bulgarians rallied to win it by four points pleasing their anxious fans. And even though Canada had a lacklustre start to the fourth set (at one point Bulgaria led by six points), the team was able pull it together enough to even at 12 points each. They then went back and forth, and Canada kept its composure after a late Bulgarian charge for another two-point set win.
Canada’s Graham Vigrass recorded seven successful blocks and 17 points in total, while Bulgarian Tsvetan Sokolov finished the night with 18 points, as the home team’s top scorer.
Bulgaria was not only buoyed by its loud fans, but also by a 3-2 win over reigning world champions Poland yesterday. Canada, however, with a young squad and a new coach this year, was not going to be easily intimidated.
“It was very positive how we behaved on the court. They were pressing us and they’re a good team, especially in front of their fans,” said Antiga. “This victory is important because of the volleyball we played (not only the standings).”
Canada will face Poland tomorrow (June 11), which will be a special occasion for Antiga as he coached that team to its 2014 World Championship title.
Canada ended its first World League Group 1 weekend with two five-set wins (Belgium and the U.S.) and a loss (Serbia) in Serbia. This weekend so far, the team fell to Olympic gold medalists Brazil before tonight’s win over Bulgaria. Tomorrow match will be live online.
Web casts: www.cbcsports.ca
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)
Nick Hoag – Sherbrooke, QC
Stephane Antiga, head coach
Daniel Lewis, assistant coach
Georges Laplante, assistant coach
Lionel Bonnaure, statistician
Jean-Sebastien Hartell, therapist
Julien Boucher, team manager