Canada drops opening match on Australian Tour

BRISBANE, AustraliaCanada’s national men’s volleyball team lost to Australia 25-22, 25-23, 25-22 on Thursday. It was Canada’s first of four matches in Australia where they will be for the next two weeks to continue preparations for this September’s world championships.

The Canadians left their training base in Gatineau, Que., on Monday and arrived in Australia on Wednesday morning.   Thursday’s match was Canada’s fifth since reuniting in May after their pro seasons overseas.

“It could have gone better for us tonight,” said Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon, who watched from the sidelines on Thursday due to a hand injury suffered last week in training. “We had some moments where we played well, we had leads in the first two sets but couldn’t finish.”

Schmitt, one of Canada’s top scorers last month at the Pan Am Cup, hopes to be able to play in the upcoming matches.

“The hand is getting better day-by-day,” he said. “I’m back to practicing and I did some warming up tonight so hopefully it can be all mended soon. Still this is an exhibition series and there is no sense rushing things. But I’m anxious to start playing again.”

The Canadian team leaves Brisbane Friday for Canberra where it will reside and train at the Australian Institute of Sport. The next match between the two squads is Saturday in Canberra.

The 14-member Canadian team, lead by head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que., is comprised of Louis-Pierre Mainville of Notre-Dame-de-l’Isle, Que., Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., Adam Kaminski of Chatham, Ont., Justin Duff of Winnipeg, Dustin Schneider of Brandon, Man., Joshua Howatson of Victoria, Jeremy Wilcox of Calgary, Fred Winters of Victoria, Steve Gotch of Okotoks, Alta., Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., Nicholas Cundy of Edmonton, Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon and Benoit Raymond of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.