Canada’s men’s and women’s teams at the NORCECA Champions Cup both ended the tournament on a high note with wins on Saturday.

The women’s team overcame a first-set lost to beat Puerto Rico 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

Canada finished the tournament 1-2 in third place. Puerto Rico finished 0-3. (The U.S. women won the tournament, and Dominican Republic was second.)

Canada led Puerto Rico in attacks (58-47), blocks (11-8) and aces (4-3). Canada scored on 24 of Puerto Rico’s errors and committed 22. Canada had four players in double figures led by Kiera Van Ryk (who was later named best scorer of the women’s tournament) with 19 points on 17 attacks and a match-high two aces. Shainah Joseph added 17 points on 16 attacks and one ace.

Canada’s Jennifer Cross (who ended up being named best blocker) scored 14 points on eight attacks and a match-high six blocks.

Puerto Rico’s Paulina Prieto Cerame led all scorers with 21 points on a match-best 19 kills and two blocks.

“That’s the best game we’ve played this weekend. I think our middle-setter connection was so much better and it opened up some room on the pins for our hitters. We were dialed in for the whole four sets, and it was awesome to finish the tournament on a high like that,” said Canada’s coach Shannon Winzer.

“We’ve got a lot of young players. We’ve got a few inexperienced players. I think that they get better every day is really promising as a coach. The big thing for us in Canada right now is building our depth. It shows we have a really bright future. I’m pretty excited about that.”

Canada’s men’s team disappointed the home crowd Saturday night defeating the United States 3-1 (28-26, 25-20, 27-29, 26-24).

In the overall points race, the U.S. Men (1-2) grabbed the silver and Canada (1-2) took bronze. Cuba won the gold with a 3-0 record.

Four of Canada’s players scored in double figures led by Blake Scheerhoorn (who won two individual awards – best opposite and scorer) with a match-high 21 points on a match-high 19 attacks and a match-best two aces. Eric Loeppky added 18 points on 13 kills, a match-high four blocks and one ace.

The U.S. men went with a completely new starting lineup than they had used in their previous two matches. Greg Petty led the U.S. men with 11 points on nine kills, one block and one ace.

Canada led in kills (64-49) and blocks (7-5). The teams tied in aces (4-4). The United States scored 41 points on Canada’s errors while committing 31.

Canada’s coach Ryan Marsden said of the match: “We faced some major adversity with serving. I think our total missed serves was 31; we missed 13 in the first set and still won, which I’ve never seen before. I think the guys did a pretty good job in the later part of the match to make sure we kept the ball in play. Another thing we did is attack them in the middle. …They came back at us too and tried to answer to that. We had big games from all of our players. It’s great for Canada today.”

In addition to the award winners mentioned, Canada’s Jeremy Davies was named best libero and digger.

Sept. 02 to Sept.07, Canada hosts the Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship in Winnipeg.
Reports and photo: USA Volleyball/NORCECA