Canada drops first match to Cuba in pre-world championship series

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The Canadian men’s national volleyball team lost 25-18, 26-24, 25-20 to Cuba on Tuesday to open a three-game pre-world championships series at the Hershey Centre against their Caribbean opponents.

The turning point of the match was the second set as Canada had a golden opportunity to tie the match at 1-1. The Canadians had built up their biggest lead at 20-17. Setter Josh Howatson of Victoria and Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., made some nice combination plays while the long curly haired Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., showed why he is one of the more spectacular players in the game with his laser smashes. 

But the Cubans never panicked and for the second set in row put together a strong finish to gain a stranglehold on the match.

“We are mad we lost that set,” said Canadian libero Dan Lewis. “But we held our position and our blocking was better.”

In the first set, Cuba strung five point and seven point runs to keep Canada at bay while in the third Canada fell behind quickly and never caught up.

Both squads are tuning for the FIVB World Championships set for September 25 to October 10 in six cities in Italy. The Cubans are currently ranked eighth in the world while Canada sits at number-20. Canada was 11th at the last worlds in 2006 worlds Cuba was 15th.

The second match in the series goes Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at ScotiaBank Place and the third match is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Universite Laval in Quebec City.

Pictures from the match can be viewed at :
http://gpphotoca.zenfolio.com/p1013608980