Team Canada fights hard but bows out in men’s volleyball
Despite a gutsy performance in the quarterfinal, Canada will be departing Tokyo 2020 with a fifth-place finish in men’s volleyball, matching the performance from Rio 2016.
The Canadians fell 3-0 to the team from the ROC to start things off on Day 11. Canada had finished fourth in Pool A with a 2-3 record, while the ROC had won Pool B with four wins and one loss.
It was a heavy-hitting first set, with both teams showing off their power. But the ROC took advantage of their size and a strong service game to take it 25-21.
Canada fought tooth and nail to stay with the ROC in the second set, attacking the middle through Graham Vigrass and Lucas Van Berkel. A turning point came when Canada thought they’d evened things up at 21-21, but Nick Hoag was called for a lift and the ROC went up 22-20.
Still, Canada fought off five set points until the ROC finally killed off the second set at 30-28.
Ryan Sclater and captain Gord Perrin did their part to spark a Canadian comeback in the third set. But the accumulated momentum of the first two sets proved too much to overcome, as the ROC prevailed 25-22.
“It’s a disappointment for us not to reach the podium because the way we played was pretty amazing,” said head coach Glenn Hoag. “The Russians were really good tonight but I’m so proud of them. You can’t be more proud of a group like that.”
Hoag lauded the dedication of his staff and the players, many of whom he has seen come up through the junior ranks over the years.
“They’re a really special group,” he said. “They committed to this like I’ve never seen any group committing to this.”
Hoag was part of the Canadian team that finished fourth at Los Angeles 1984, the nation’s best-ever Olympic finish in indoor volleyball. As head coach, he guided Canada to a berth at Rio 2016, breaking the team’s 24-year Olympic absence.
He stepped down after Canada’s fifth-place finish, but came back on board in 2019 ahead of qualifying for Tokyo. Seven players, including his son Nick, competed for Canada at both of those Games.
“It’s always nice to share [this experience] with Nick,” the head coach said. “But they’re all my boys, in a way.”