Bulgaria’s raucous home crowd was not enough today as Canada won the 3-2 (25-19, 25-14, 21-25, 19-25, 15-10) battle in both teams’ final match of the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Canada takes second its pool in this second round – with the U.S. dominating and Bulgaria and Iran coming third and fourth respectively. Only the top team, and the next two best finishers over the four pools in round two advance to the final six (now set as USA, Brazil, Italy, Serbia, Russia and Poland).
Canada finishes ranked seventh (out of 24 teams) – tied with Belgium.
In today’s contest, it looked like Canada was going to make a clean sweep after the first two sets, but buoyed by some adjustments on the court and the enthusiastic crowd, the Bulgarians came back to win the next two sets. However, Canada regrouped to cleanly win the tie-break.
Despite coming on the court only late in the second set, Bulgarian Nikolay Uchikov finished with 20 points to lead all scorers. Gordon Perrin accounted for 18 of Canada’s points; following by Nick Hoag with 15 and Lucas Van Berkel with 13.
“We knew it would be a fun game and a great atmosphere; as we saw tonight, it was fantastic. I’m happy Bulgaria was able to play well in the end because it made for a better match for everybody,” said Canada’s captain Gord Perrin.
Overall, Canada had five wins and three losses in two rounds of play.
“We lost against three teams who were favourites to win the tournament (Brazil, France and the as yet unbeaten U.S.), “ said Stephane Antiga, Canada’s head coach,
“We won against some good teams – Iran, the host team Bulgaria and we stayed close with Brazil and France, despite losing. That’s satisfying, but we wanted more because we know that we can win against the big teams and we did it during Nations League. …
Now it will be time to analyze and compare team Canada to the best in the world. We still have some work to do to be able to consistent at the highest level. We can beat any team, but not consistently. If I have to mention one element it would be serving – I was impressed with the U.S., and looking at teams such as Russia and Italy, that is what they are doing much better than us.”
Antiga was impressed by the whole team effort, and that setter Jay Blankenau endured the full tournament as T.J. Sanders was not able to play due to injury.
“I will always say I want to play better, but the team played well around me,” said Jay Blankenau, “The team’s performance was good – our left sides were amazing and our middles were blocking like crazy. Everyone had energy for the long tournament, which is difficult because sometimes your hopes are fading, but we pushed through to the end and we were rewarded with the win.”
Concluded veteran Perrin: “Unfortunately we had a time there where we didn’t win a game (against Brazil, France and the U.S.), it’s tough – we give a lot to play for this team and to fall short of our goals is difficult, but I’m happy the team rallied together and played well. That’s all we can do, and the rest is up to the volleyball gods.”
#1 TJ Sanders, London, ON
#2 Gord Perrin, Creston, BC
#3 Steven Marshall, Abbotsford, BC
#4 Nicholas Hoag, Sherbrooke, QC
#5 Lucas Van Berkel, Edmonton, AB
#7 Stephen Maar, Aurora, ON
#8 Jay Blankenau, Sherwood Park, AB
#9 Jason DeRocco, Winnipeg, MB
#10 Sharone Vernon-Evans, Scarborough, ON
#11 Daniel Jansen VanDoorn, Langley, BC
#16 Ryan Sclater, Port Coquitlam, BC
#17 Graham Vigrass, Calgary, AB
#18 Blair Bann, Edmonton, AB
#20 Arthur Szwarc, Toronto, ON
Head coach: Stephane Antiga
Assistant coach: Dan Lewis
Team manager: Julien Boucher
Therapists: Melissa Healy, Luc Campbell
Statistician: Lionel Bonnaure