Canada comes back to win first round in World League qualifying

OTTAWACanada took a giant step towards returning to the FIVB World League next year defeating Slovakia  28-26, 25-17, 25-17 Saturday night to win the two-match first round qualifying series in comeback style.

With the victory, the Canadians take the series based on total sets for and against. The Slovakians won the first match of the series on Friday night in four sets.

‘It was finally our time to show we are a good team too,’’ said Canadian team captain Fred Winters of Victoria who led Canada with 17 points. ‘’We are ready to start having some strong international results and this was a great way to head into next month in which we’ll face more big challenges.’’

In the first set, barely a point ever separated two teams. With the score tied at 26-26, a Gavin Schmitt smash and a block by Ottawa’s Adam Simac put Canada up 1-0 in sets. With some needed confidence, the Canadians steamrolled over the Slovakians in the second set then overcame a 10-13 deficit in the third seal the match and the series before an appreciative crowd of nearly 2,000 fans at Scotiabank Place.

‘’For us this was a very big accomplishment,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag. ‘’These two matches were a great opportunity to evaluate our team which something we haven’t had a chance to do often in game situations. I hope our team can grow from this.’’

Toon Van Lankvelt of River, Man., added 16 points for the winners and Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon 13. 

Canada will now face Puerto Rico next month in Kingston, Ont., in another two sets series with the winner qualifying for the 2012 World League.

The last time Canada competed in the World League was in 2007 when it placed 13th.  The FIVB World League, now in its 22nd year, is a 16-country intercontinental tournament that runs for over a 6 week period every summer and offers the biggest cash prizes in the sport.

The Slovakians were vying for a first ever World League appearance.

‘’Canada were able to play better and we could not,’’ said Slovakia’s head coach Emanuele Zanini. ‘’We played good in the first set but we were not able to capitalize on our opportunities.’’

‘’We made a lot of mistakes,’’ added Slovakia’s captain Michal Masny. ‘’Our attack in particular was much worse than yesterday.’’

Canadian roster for the World League qualifier series vs Slovakia July 29-30 at Scotibank Place in Ottawa:

Players: Nicholas Cundy, Edmonton; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Justin Duff, Winnipeg; Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man. ; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man; Steve Brinkman, Bowmanville, Ont.; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Adam Kaminski, Chatham, Ont.; Fred Winters, Victoria; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Richard Wilcox, Calgary.


Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau.

Team manager: Julien Boucher, Quebec City.

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