FIVB World Cup recap: Canada ends on a positive note, eyes next step to Rio
A straight-set win over Tunisia ended Canada’s World Cup on a positive note in Tokyo, with the squad now looking to make Rio 2016 through other means.
The 25-19, 25-21, 25-17 win on Wednesday had Canada finish the tournament with five wins, six losses and 13 points for seventh place. The top two teams, the United States (with 30 points) and Italy (29), automatically qualified for Rio 2016 on their World Cup merits.
Head coach Glenn Hoag was happy to “win and to close this World Cup on a positive note,” he said. His immediate focus will now be on the NORCECA (Canada’s region) championship starting in Mexico on October 5, where the top four teams will move to an Olympic qualifying tournament to take place at a later date. NORCECA championship favourite and returning winner United States, having already qualified for the Olympic Games, will not be eligible for the Rio qualifying tournament.
Canada ended the World Cup with three straight wins.
Match 10: Canada 3-0 Iran
Canada’s penultimate outing at the World Cup saw its fourth win of the tournament beating Iran in three sets 25-23, 29-27, 26-24).
The closeness of each set highlighted how clinical Canada had to be throughout key moments of the contest. Lapses were evident, such as nearly losing a 24-20 first set lead before closing it out 25-23. In the second, Canada did the chasing before taking a commanding 2-0 lead in sets. An error-prone third set from both sides had the score at 23-all but Canada endured to take the match.
With four wins and six losses, the Olympic dream from this World Cup has long been over for Canada, which will close out the tournament against Tunisia before setting sights on Rio 2016 through a regional tourney.
Match 9: Canada 3-0 Venezuela
A change of venue followed a straight-set (25-18, 25-22, 25-23) win over Venezuela in Tokyo, stopping a three-match World Cup losing streak for Canada on Monday.
Canada’s much improved ability to setup play seen in its last match was on full display in the Venezuela victory, something that failed them earlier in the tournament losing against the likes of powerful Poland and Russia.
Each time Venezuela’s offence initiated, the Canadians engaged with a disciplined counterattack that saw them hold their composure on way to its third win of the tournament. Gavin Schmitt led players on both teams in scoring with 16 points.
Match 8: Canada 1-3 Argentina
Canada lost its third straight match and sixth overall at the World Cup, dropping a four-set decision to Argentina 25-21, 23-25, 29-27, 25-22.
After losing the first set and going down 5-0 in the second, the Canadians regrouped and tied the score at 15-all, before levelling the match at one set apiece.
In the third set Canada looked the early favourite to take a lead in the match, but Argentina scrambled to cut a three-point deficit before going ahead for good. Canada put up a fight in the fourth set but it wasn’t enough, the South Americans were simply too strong to be subdued.
Match 7: Canada 0-3 Russia
A straight-set loss (25-21, 25-16, 25-19) to Russia in Toyama saw Canada’s record drop to two wins and five losses.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Canada was never in this one, making passing errors which made it that much more difficult to negotiate around a strong Russian middle.
Captain Fred Winters later said “we always seem to make it really difficult on ourselves” but “our spirits aren’t down, which is good, but we’re definitely not playing our best volleyball.
Match 6: Canada 1-3 Poland
The second round of the World Cup didn’t bring Canada much luck with unbeaten Poland defeating the Canadians in four sets 23-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19.
Canada won the first set by maintaining a narrow but steady lead throughout the opener. Service errors from the Poles helped Canada to take the set, but it would be a while before the Canadians found have any genuine momentum in the coastal city of Toyama.
The next two sets saw Poland find its stride, snuffing out any doubt with offensive outburst that would see them take a pair of convincing wins to pull ahead two sets to one. Canada took an early lead in the fourth set, but it was short-lived, eventually handing it and the match to Poland.
Match 5: Canada 3-2 Australia
Canada won a five set thriller 3-2 against Australia on Sunday for its second win of the FIVB World Cup.
The close, vital victory (32-34, 25-14, 25-21, 27-29, 20-18) broke a record for the longest match in World Cup history at two hours and 49 minutes. It also set a new tournament mark with 245 points, while giving Canada two wins against three losses in Japan.
Canada had to play catch-up in the first set but lost by two points when play was extended at 24-all. That set foreshadowed future events as the two countries continued to go back-and-forth, but not before Canada completely dominated the second. The teams exchanged the third and fourth sets before the deciding fifth saw both countries sit at match point only to be thwarted on each occasion. That is until a Canadian serve from Steven Marshall caught a fortuitous break – hitting the top of the net before falling out of reach of the Australians – for the winning point.
Match 4: Canada 0-3 Japan
Canada was shutout for the second consecutive match in Japan, this time losing in straight sets to the host nation 25-17, 25-15, 25-21 at the FIVB World Cup.
A bad start continued past the opening set to the second for Canada losing both by a sizeable margin. A more competitive third set saw Canada unravel toward the end, falling three points back at 21-18 before dropping the contest. Australia is next for Canada, now at one win and three losses at the World Cup.
Match 3: Canada 0-3 United States
A dominant United States proved too strong for Canada earning a straight sets victory (25-21, 25-20, 25-17) on Thursday at the Volleyball World Cup.
The defeat dropped Canada’s record to one win and two losses in Japan before they’re scheduled to take on the host country. The Americans have won all three of their matches.
Match 2: Canada 3-2 Egypt
Canada has evened its record at the FIVB Men’s World Cup with a 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 24-26, 15-12) win over Egypt on Wednesday morning in Hiroshima.
After an opening match loss to Italy on Tuesday, Canada is in the win column despite a scare from the African championship-winning side led by its top player Ahmed Abdelhay.
Canada could have closed out the match in three sets but Egypt worked hard, led by Abdelhay’s serves to eventually pull the Africans ahead. They won the next set to take the match to a decisive fifth where Canada ultimately found some breathing room for its first win of the tournament.
“We had to work a lot for every point,” Canadian coach Glen Hoag said. “Lately, we’ve been struggling with our blocking, so we will try to use the tournament to get better.”
Canada’s next match is against a powerful United States team on Thursday in Hiroshima.
Canada last took part in this competition in 2003, where the bronze medal-winning Pan Am Games team finished seventh. The first and second place teams at the World Cup earn a spot at Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Match 1: Canada 1-3 Italy
Canada didn’t enjoy the best start to the tournament, dropping a four-set decision to Italy 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-13 in Hiroshima on Tuesday. Gavin Schmitt had 13 points from spikes and two from serves. Nicholas Hoag scored 15 from spikes.
Italy is a powerhouse European side ranked fourth in the world. Canada got back into the match winning the third set, but couldn’t carry that momentum on to the fourth, as highlighted by captain Fred Winters who said, “unfortunately, we started the fourth set down and with a team of the quality of Italy, you’re not going to come back.”