The Czech Republic earned a 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 17-25, 25-16) win over Canada in their final match of Group 2 pool play, knocking off the home side to pick up their seventh win of the 2017 World Grand Prix Sunday at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Marie Toufarova led the Czechs with 16 points. Michaela Mlejnkova, who has led the Czechs in scoring throughout the tournament, finished with 13 points.
For the second match in a row, Kyla Richey (Roberts Creek, BC) led the Canadian offence with 16 points, including 13 kills. Alicia Perrin (Creston, BC) was a key cog for the Canadians off the bench, tallying 11 points, including four blocks and three aces, after coming into the match late in the second set.
With a 7-2 record, the Czech Republic finishes fourth in the Group 2 standings. They will now return home to host the Group 2 Finals July 29-30 in Ostrava.
Canada, 3-6, will finish the tournament no lower than ninth within Group 2.
“We played really under our expectations today,” said Canada’s head coach, Marcello Abbondanza. “The fans deserve to see really different volleyball – a different attitude; not just technically, but with more passion and effort on the court.”
In the first set, the Czechs opened a two-point gap at the first technical timeout, before extending their lead to six points at the second break following a Karolína Bednárová ace. Canada brought the Czechs back to within three points late, at 24-21, but the visitors earned the next point to take the set. Toufarova had a team-high six points for the Czech Republic, while Richey collected five points for Canada.
The Czechs kept rolling early in the second set, building a 7-1 lead. After a Toufarova kill, they pushed their advantage to 15-8. A 3-0 run by the Canadians made it a four-point game, but a quick Czech response sent them into the second technical timeout ahead 16-11.Canada battled back and, with Perrin coming off the bench to spark the Canadians, the locals evened the set 22-22. However, the Czechs tallied the final three points of the set and, for the second set in a row, took the winning point on a Canadian setting error.
With Perrin continuing to put in a leading effort, the Canadians started the third set strong, securing an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout. The Czech scored the next four points, only to see Canada reply with a 7-0 run, which saw Alicia Ogoms make her mark on the set with a pair of momentum-turning blocks. The Czech Republic stormed back to within one point, at 15-14, but a Richey kill sparked a 4-0 Canadian run that put them ahead for good. With Perrin dominating at the net with three straight blocks, Canada pushed the match to a fourth set with an eight-point win.
With a set in the bag, the Canadians started the fourth set strong, building a 9-6 lead. Canada held onto a three-point lead until 12-9, but a 4-0 run from the Czechs put the set back in the balance. The Czechs took a three-point lead at the second technical timeout, as a stuff block from Bednárová put an exclamation point on a 3-0 run. With momentum back with the Czechs, they pulled away for the victory.
Canada have lost all four matches against the Czech Republic all-time in the World Grand Prix. The Czech Republic beat Canada in straight sets twice in 2016 and knocked off the Canadians in a five-setter earlier in this year’s tournament.
Despite the loss, Canada’s three-win campaign is the top World Grand Prix performance in the program’s history. Canada had two wins in both 2014 and 2015.
Alicia Perrin, middle for Canada, said: “There were some technical parts of our game plan that we didn’t execute properly. We had moments where we were great, but also moments where we had too many unforced errors. We let the Czechs get too far ahead while making more errors. You can’t do that against a good team who’s that consistent.”
The Canadians also train in Richmond with Abbondanza, who is new to the team this year.
“We’re still trying to figure out our best line up and it’s a different group going to each tournament. We’re a deep team with different roles, but I think we’re getting better,” said Perrin.
FIVB World Grand Prix Week 3 Schedule (all times PDT)
July 21, 2017
Canada vs Germany – 0-3
Peru vs Czech Republic – 1-3
July 22, 2017
Canada vs Peru – 3-1
Czech Republic vs Germany – 3-0
July 23, 2017
Canada vs Czech Republic – 1-3
Germany vs Peru – 3-0