Canada’s men’s volleyball team brought Italy’s winning start in FIVB Volleyball Nations League to a halt with a 3-1 victory (22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16) on Friday.
Graham Vigrass racked up 14 attacking points as the Canadians bounced back from losing the opening set to clinch its second win of the tournament (last weekend Canada beat Korea, but lost to Russia and host Poland. Italy had wins over Germany, Brazil and Serbia).
Tonight, Stephen Maar joined Vigrass and offered a two-way threat, smashing down 11 winners while also chiming in with four crucial blocks. Maar was involved in what ultimately proved to be the turning point of the match, the final rally of the second set, that ended when captain TJ Sanders tipped the ball downwards for a winner and levelled the match at 1-1.
Canada continued to respond to Italy’s offense in the third set and took control in the fourth. Relative newcomer Ryan Sclater contributed 11 points today for Canada.
Osmany Juantorena collected 14 total points for Italy, with Ivan Zaytsev blasting 15 in attack.
Canada had looked determined throughout the match despite a 2-15 historical record against Italy.
The Italians will try to regroup to take on Iran tomorrow in San Juan, while Canada will face hosts Argentina, also on Saturday. Canada plays Iran on Sunday.
“Argentina and Iran are both good teams, so they will be tough matches,” said Team Canada’s Graham Vigrass. “We haven’t played either team much in the last couple of years, so video will be important. Winning tonight doesn’t change how we feel or prepare for the next two games. … The longer we are together, the more polished our game will get.”
Canada now has six points from its four matches in the inaugural VNL season, and Italy has eight to date.
Photo and match reports: FIVB
Canada’s roster this week:
1 – TJ Sanders, London, ON (setter)
3 – Steve Marshall, Abbotsford, BC (outside hitter)
4 – Nicholas Hoag, Sherbrooke, QC (outside hitter)
5 – Lucas Van Berkel, Edmonton, AB (middle blocker)
7 – Stephen Maar, Aurora, ON (outside hitter)
9 – Jason DeRocco, Winnipeg, MB (outside hitter)
11 – Daniel Jansen Vandoorn, Langley, BC (middle blocker)
15 – Bryan Duquette, St. Thomas, ON (libero)
16 – Ryan Sclater, Port Coquitlam, BC (opposite)
17 – Graham Vigrass, Calgary, AB (middle blocker)
18 – Bradley Gunter, Comox, BC (opposite)
19 – Blair Bann, Edmonton, AB (libero)
20 – Arthur Szwarc, Toronto, ON (middle blocker)
21 – Brett Walsh, Calgary, AB (setter)
Head coach: Stephane Antiga
Assistant coach: Dan Lewis
Therapist: Melissa Healy
Statistician: Lionel Bonnaure
Team manager:Julien Boucher