Photo: Steve Kingsman

Canada swept Australia 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-18) to open the second weekend of the five-week pool play stage of Volleyball Nations League in front an enthusiastic crowd at the Arena at TD Place in Ottawa.

Sharone Vernon-Evans led the attack for the host nation with 20 points, while Stephen Maar and Gord Perrin contributed 12 and 10, respectively. Lincoln Alexander Williams was Australia’s top scorer with 18 points.

In a rematch of their VNL duel in Ottawa last year, Australia got off to a good start and led through the first two technical timeouts 8-6 and 16-14. But two solid back-to-back spikes by Perrin and Vernon-Evans put the host team ahead 21-20. A couple of attacking and serving errors from Australia ensued and paved the way for Canada’s 25-23 win.

The second set began tight with Canada ahead 8-6 at the first technical timeout, but Australia made costly mistakes in the attack and Canada increased the lead 16-9.
Perrin, Vernon-Evans and Graham Vigrass produced two consecutive blocks and Brett Walsh followed with an ace as the host nation sealed the second set 25-17.

In the third set, Australia remained in contention, trailing 6-8. Vernon-Evans was lethal again from the net with two consecutive spikes to move Canada ahead 14-11. With the score 23-17 he was replaced by Ryan Sclater, who produced two solid spikes to seal the victory 25-18

“We knew Australia would be a very good team physically. The teams last weekend were not as physical as the teams here this weekend. We played well, we started a little slow but the guys kept their composure and played a solid match. Sharone was great for us tonight. We still have a lot of things we need to work on,” said Glenn Hoag, Canada’s head coach.

“Australia is very aggressive on their attack and they like to take some very gutsy swings. They had us on their heels a little bit to begin with but we were able to save the first set, which was important and we were then able to control the match. There are always things we can do better,” said John Gordon Perrin, Canada’s captain.

“We’re still working on our offense to get it a little more crisp, but it’s getting better every weekend, which is great for us. We still have a little way to go before we reach our top form, but we’re getting close,” he added.

Canada will play Germany on Saturday, another rematch from the 2018 VNL in Ottawa in 2018. The European Championships silver medalists won lat year in four sets.