Veteran outside Kyla Richey of Roberts Creek, BC, led the way for Canada as she earned 22 points, including 17 kills, to lead the Canadians to a 3-1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21) win over Peru in the 2017 World Grand Prix at the Richmond Olympic Oval Saturday.
Alongside Richey, Canada’s Elly Wendel (Caronport, SK) came off the bench to contribute 20 points in Canada’s first-ever World Grand Prix win on home court. The Canadian block also proved to be massive for the home side, with Canada putting up 18 blocks to Peru’s six.
The victory made further history for Canada, as their third victory in this year’s World Grand Prix marks the most wins a Canadian women’s team has ever earned in the tournament.
Peru’s Maguilaura Frias and Katherine Mabel Olemar, who was a factor off the bench, each had 11 points. However, Angela Leyva, who has been Peru’s top scorer throughout this year’s tournament, was held to just 10 points.
Peru took control early in the first set, opening a 13-6 lead and forcing Canada into a quick timeout. Canada pushed back, getting within three points at 19-16, but were never able to climb any closer. With Mirtha Uribe, Maguilaura Frias and Leyva tallying four points each, the Peruvians pulled away for a five-point win. A Uribe ace capped the set for the visitors. Coming off the bench, Canada’s Wendel had a team-high four points in the opening set.
With Canada riding the Wendel wave, the home side took a 10-8 lead early in the second set. Peru fought back, going ahead 13-12, before Wendel sparked a 5-0 Canadian run that gave her team the lead for good. With the home crowd spurring Canada on, they rolled to an eight-point win thanks in large part to a pair of superb blocks from middle Jennifer Cross. Wendel had 13 points through two sets, including 10 kills.
With momentum squarely in Canada’s corner, they scored the first six points of the third set and were in complete control the rest of the set. With Richey coming to life and collecting seven points in the set, Canada pulled away for second straight eight-point win. Fittingly, Richey iced the set with the winning kill.
In the fourth set, Canada established a 6-1 lead and never trailed. Peru closed the gap to just one point, at 13-12, but three straight Canadian points sent Canada into the technical timeout with a four-point advantage. With Marie-Alex Bélanger coming off the bench midway through the set and sparking the Canadians from the right side, the home team held on for a four-point win. Richey earned match-point with a huge block.
“I’m really happy we could pull out that win. We had a bit of a slow start, but it’s really awesome that we could find our momentum and use the home crowd to our advantage,” said Richey. “Our game plan is to shut down No. 12 (Angela Leyva) and No. 20 (Carla Rueda Cotito) because they’re huge hitters and they’ve always been like that. Peru are long-time rivals and we knew their game plan, so if we can shut down them and neutralize the others, it’s going to be easier for us.”
Canada and Peru have met twice previously in the World Grand Prix, with the teams splitting their 2014 encounters, with Peru winning in four sets and Canada earning a straight sets victory.
Canada will wrap up its 2017 World Grand Prix campaign Sunday against Czech Republic, while Peru will take on Germany.