Antwerp, Belgium – In a five-set thriller that saw Belgium fight back from a two-set deficit, Canada prevailed today in FIVB World League Group 1 play 2-3 (23-25, 13-25, 26-24, 25-22, 10-15)
Stephen Maar contributed 24 points and 19 spikes to lead the Canadian attack, while Graham Vigrass and Daniel Jansen Vandoorn weighed in with 16 points each. Belgium was led by Gert van Walle who had 20 points.
Both Canada and Belgium came into the game neck-and-neck in the standings with 3 and 3 records, with both also having lost their last encounters (Serbia 3-0 Belgium; Poland 3-1 Canada), although the Belgians had a better win-loss set ratio.
“This was a hard game and I’m happy with the win,” Canada’s coach Stephane Antiga said.
Canada won the first set tightly, but ran away with the second. However, the momentum switched and Belgium was determined to hang on in front of its home crowd. “We could have won 3-0 but we didn’t. In the third and fourth set we made too many mistakes and Belgium started playing better. We played some good defence today. It’s an important win with the focus on reaching the Final Six (of World League Group 1),” said Antiga.
After some back and forth in the tie-break, and Belgium’s coach Vital Heynen showing his displeasure at the officiating, Canada took the final set by five points.
On Saturday, Canada faces France, who has already qualified for the tournament’s final six phase. France and Canada will meet for the fifth time in FIVB World League history, with the Europeans having a 3-1 historical advantage.
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)
Nicholas 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