Canada drops opening match in World League men’s volleyball qualifier

OTTAWACanada lost its opening match in first round of the FIVB World League qualifying on Friday night falling to Slovakia 28-26, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23 in the first of a two match series. .

With the victory, the Slovakians vying for a first ever berth in World League play, leads the series three points to zero. The series is based on a formula of the winning team earning three points for a 3-0 or 3-1 win in sets and two points for a 3-2 win.  The loser in the first instance would receive 0 points and one point for a 3-2 loss.

‘’We played well at times but we miss playing more of these kinds of matches,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag. ‘’We don’t manage situations well at times and we made a couple of crucial errors in the third set and it cost us.’’

One of the many highlights inthe exciting match for the 2,000 fans at Scotiabank Place was a great comeback by the Canadian team in the fourth. With Fred Winters of Victoria serving, the Canadians scored eight straight points to overcome a 12-20 deficit.

‘’The the way the team reacted being down in the fourth was very good,’’ said Hoag. ‘’Dallas (Soonias) and Nick (Cundy) came in and really played well.’’

Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon was the top Canadian scorer with 22 points while Winters and Toon Van Lankvelt of River, Man., added 13 apiece.

‘’We just have show the poise we had in the fourth set from the beginning of the match,’’ said Winters. ‘’We are way too tentative at time and we need to be more aggressive.’’

Divis Lukas led the Slovakian attack with 23 points while Milan Bencz and Emanuel Kohut added 14 each.

‘’I know my players want this and they are prepared for this,’’ said Slovakia’s coach Emanuele Zanini. ‘’They are good fighters and we are happy with this victory. But this is just the first step and we expect another fight tomorrow night.’’

Game 2 goes Saturday at Scotiabank Place at 7:30 pm. The winner of the series advances to the second round of qualifying next month.

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.

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