Canada’s men’s team secured its spot in the 2018 FIVB World Championship with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-13, 27-25, 25-18) win over Mexico in the third-place match of the NORCECA Men’s Championship on Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Canada finishes the tournament with a 3-1 record and the bronze medal. Mexico finishes 3-2 and will advance to the next four-team world championship qualifier.
Mexico led Canada in attacks (51-50). Canada led in aces (6-4) and blocks (10-5).
Errors proved costly for Mexico as Canada scored 32 points on Mexico’s miscues while Mexico scored 21 points on Canada’s errors.
Outside hitters Nick Hoag (Sherbrooke, QC) and Stephen Maar (Aurora, ON) led the scoring with 18 points each. Opposite Sharone Vernon-Evans of Scarborough, Ontario, added 17. Maar had a match-high 16 spikes and Hoag had a match-high four aces.
Opposite Daniel Vargas and outside hitter Jorge Barajas each scored 13 points for Mexico. Middle blocker Jose Martinez had 12 points including a match-high four blocks.
Mexico surged to a 7-1 lead in the first set and held off Canada’s comeback efforts. Canada dominated the second set. Canada took set point in the third set at 24-21, but Mexico’s Martinez scored on two kills and setter Pedro Rangel added an ace to tie the score. Mexico fought off another set point at 25-24 with a kill. But Canada won the match on a Mexico error and kill be Maar.
Canada took an 8-2 lead in the fourth set and never let go of the lead.
Canada’s Head Coach Stéphane Antiga: “We knew it would be difficult. Mexico can serve and spike… We were not aggressive enough in the beginning, maybe not ready for a strong serve. I thought we played a serious game. That was our second goal, the first one was to win this competition and the second one was to qualify to World Championships, so we made … (half our goals) … so that’s not so bad. I think we needed one set to get over our disappointment after yesterday’s defeat against U.S. … just satisfied.”
Canada’s Team Captain Gordon Perrin (Creston, BC): “We started really slow. We started sleeping, if you will, and they played very spirited. They played good defense. They were able to give us a difficult match. We just needed to wake up and play. As I say, we didn’t come play in the beginning, it showed in our play. We were able to receive a little better. They have two big servers that gave us problems in the first set, Rangel and Barajas, but after we were able to side them out after one or two and that takes a lot out of their game.”