Canada’s Nick Hoag’s match-high 23 points weren’t enough today, in a hard-fought five setter against France in Volleyball Nations League action. France’s Jean Patry (20 points) and Julien Lyneel (15 points) led the attack in the 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 16-14) win for “les bleus.”
Canada still sits in the middle of the VNL standings so far with six wins and six losses; France has only lost two of its 12 VNL matches so far, with only one weekend to go in the round robin play. Only six countries will play in the finals – France, as host of the finals in Lille in July, is guaranteed a spot.
After a loss to Bulgaria yesterday, Canada’s coach Stephane Antiga – a former French team star – switched up his line-up today, but despite leveling the match twice and forcing the tie-break set, Canada failed to take advantage of an early three-point advantage in the fifth, allowing France to extend its winning streak to six.
Canada’s Ryley Barnes, Brad Gunter, Arthur Szwarc and returning Olympian Justin Duff all had solid offensive performances today in the effort to topple the skilled French team.
“We came out with nothing to lose and took them by surprise a little bit, we showed a lot of fight and battle,” said Gunter “Even in the sets we lost, we fought for every point and that was an important part for us. We had to make some points here if we want to make it to the Final Six (in Lille), we are just going to take it one game at a time and try to do the best we can.”