Canada qualifies for World League with decisive win over Puerto Rico

KINGSTON, Ont - Canada’s Men’s National volleyball team has secured a spot for themselves in the 2012 Edition of the World League with a decisive 3-0, 25-19, 25-14 and 25-19 on Sunday at the K-Rock Centre.

Canadian Gavin Schmitt led all scorers with 14 points over two sets, including 3 crucial service aces in the first set to put Canada in the lead with a score of 16-11 at the second technical time-out.

I’m really happy with this win,’’ said Canadian team captain Fred Winters of Victoria. We had a big opportunity with Puerto Rico missing 2 starters, and we took advantage of it. We get another chance at World League, which is great for us because we have a better team then we had 4 years ago. This is very exciting for us.''

Before that, the match had been a very closely contested back and forth set with the teams trading points for 8-7 in favour of Canada at the first technical time-out.

In the second set, Canada took complete control with the big serving of Fred Winters and the net presence of Adam Simac. Winters forced Puerto Rico to give up many free balls that resulted in Canadian points while Simac recorded 3 stuff blocks in the 2nd set, adding as well 3 kills in the set.

With the World League already in their grasp, Head Coach Glenn Hoag brought in the rest of the Canadian players to finish out the match. Canada’s offence was much more evenly spread out, with every Canadian player recording at least 2 points, with the exception of libero Daniel Lewis.

This is a very big step for our program,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag. ‘’World League means a lot of big matches, and that’s very important for our very young team. This is a group that we started in 2007, and it’s still growing and maturing. This will be a great test for our young guys. We will need to stay healthy. Our focus is now turned to the NORCECA Championships next week.’’

Puerto Rico, missing starters Hector Soto and Angel Perez, seemed disheartened by the relentless Canadian attack. Unlike the last match, they did not have the ability to bounce back with never-stopping drive. Notables for Puerto Rico are Carlos Ortiz and Juan Figueroa with 10 and 8 points apiece.

The two teams are now preparing for the NORCECA Championships, a qualifying event for the 2011 World Cup in Japan in November, which is the first step in the qualifying process for the 2012 Olympics in London, England. Both Canada and Puerto Rico are in pool A with Mexico and St. Lucia.