Canada pleased the home crowd with a 3-1 win (25-17, 25-27, 25-15, 25-22) as the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup got underway Monday at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau.
Building on the program’s historic bronze medal performance at the World League earlier this month, a younger Canadian squad is looking to improve from their third-place finish at the 2016 Pan Am, Canada’s first medal at this event in five years.
“It was a nice performance; exciting to watch – good serving from our guys, and great for these young guys to get a taste of success like that,” said Canada’s coach Larry McKay.
Supported by an enthusiastic crowd, the host team started out strongly in the opening set, taking an 8-3 lead and extending it to 16-6 at the second timeout and 21-11. Venezuela did not lose hope and bounced back 17-23, before Danny Demyanenko and Ryan Sclater’s block sealed the partial victory 25-17.
The game stayed more even with Canada keeping a narrow lead 8-7 at the end of the first technical timeout, but the South American squad responded with a strong attack and solid defense to move in front 12-11 and stayed ahead 16-13. Edson Valencia contributed with an ace and a strong attack to keep his team’s hopes alive. Canada kept fighting and eventually tied the set at 22 and had a set point 24-23, but couldn’t capitalize from the service line. Venezuela found an extra gear as Emerson Rodriguez and José Verdi’s blocked the Canadian attack to even the match 27-25.
Venezuela, third at the continental event in 2015, kept the momentum going with an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout, but Casey Schouten’s lethal serve put Canada back in front 13-10. The host nation kept the advantage 16-13 at the second timeout. A solid serve and attack led them to prevail 25-15.
Determined to finish the match in four sets, Canada showed a solid attack and block to contain their South American rivals 8-6 at the first technical timeout. Ryan Sclater’s attack found spaces in their rivals’ defense to extend the lead to 16-12. Venezuela narrowed the deficit to 16-18 and then 20-22, but the Canadians’ height proved to be decisive in the attack and block to take the fourth and final set 25-22.
Casey Schouten and Ryan Sclater led the Canadian performance 16 with points each. Emerson Rodriguez, Edson Valencia and José Verdi each contributed 11 for Venezuela.
Max Burt, Canada’s team captain, summed up the performance: “Obviously the first match of the tournament is always pretty difficult, so I’m pretty happy with the result here. It’s also our first game as a team this season, and that’s a pretty good Venezuelan team. It’s a very positive start for our group and some of our guys haven’t played at this level before, so we’re satisfied with the result tonight.”
- Preliminary Round Schedule
14:00 Argentina v Puerto Rico
16:00 Cuba v Dominican Republic
18:00 United States v Mexico
20:00 Canada v Venezuela
14:00 Dominican Republic v United States
16:00 Argentina v Venezuela
18:00 Cuba v Mexico
20:00 Canada v Puerto Rico
14:00 Mexico v Dominican Republic
16:00 Puerto Rico v Venezuela
18:00 United States v Cuba
20:00 Canada v Argentina
Byron Keturakis, Surrey, BC (setter)
Gabriel Chancy, Montreal, QC (setter)
Irvan Brar, Surrey, BC (left side)
Brandon Koppers, Georgetown, ON (left side)
Blake Scheerhoorn, Belleville, ON (left side)
Ryan Sclater, Port Coquitlam, BC (left side)
Robert Wojcik, Oshawa, ON (right side)
Casey Schouten, Winnipeg, MB (right side)
Tyler Epp, Saskatoon, SK (middle)
Jordan McConkey, Stratford, ON (middle)
Danny Demyanenko, Toronto, ON (middle)
Max Burt, Gander, NL (middle)
Bryan Duquette, St. Thomas, ON (libero)
Olivier Riopel, Gatineau, QC (libero)
Larry McKay, Head coach
Jason Haldane, Assistant coach
Phil Dixon, Assistant coach
Melissa Healy, Therapist
Julien Boucher, Team manager
Murat Haktanir, Statistician