Japan pleased its home crowd today at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup with a thrilling 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25,15-9) win over Canada at Hiroshima’s Green Arena.

The match was a back and forth affair for most of each set, until Yuji Nishida finished off the fifth set with a string of ace serves that proved too much for Canada, but electrified the packed audience.

“It was an incredible match once again for us. My guys played so well. We fought really, really hard. It was a difficult atmosphere at the beginning because the guys are so fatigued and they’re trying so hard to get the energy going. We had some really important substitutions to pick up the energy,” said Canada’s coach Dan Lewis.  “At the end, my inexperience showed and I should have called time-out, and I basically stole the game from my own players. So that’s difficult … We’re just going to have to go forward and we’re going to have to get better.”

Kunihiro Shimizu led the winning side with 25 points; while Stephen Maar led Canada’s offense with 26 points.

“Congratulations to Japan for their game and also for hosting such a great competition every four years – they do such a great job. It was a pleasure to compete in this tournament with my group,” said team captain Nicholas Hoag, who contributed 18 points today. “Japan played very well. We took a little too long to adjust to some small things, especially their tips, and we could have picked up a few more balls. And at the end (Yuji) Nishida came in and served really well, and the only one chance we had to side-out we didn’t. So it could have gone both ways at the end of the set and it went Japan’s way, so congratulations to them.”

Canada finishes ninth overall (4-7). Brazil (gold), Poland (silver) and the United States (bronze) reached the podium, with Japan a respectable fourth overall.

Canada’s focus as a program is now on preparing for the zonal Olympic qualifier, which will be held in Vancouver in January.