Canada sees bright spot in loss to Poland at men’s world volleyball championships

By Ted Graham in Triestre

TRIESTRE, Italy - For the early part of of two sets at the men’s World Championships of volleyball, Canada appeared to be on the brink of handing a nervous Polish team an upset - but the 2009 European champions persevered with a 3-0 victory (25-22, 25-21, 25-13) in the first match of pool F.

Canada shot out to an early 9-6 lead in the first set thanks to attacking muscle from outside hitter Fred Winters and flashes of defensive brilliance from Libero Dan Lewis, they appeared to be in good position to take advantage of the slow Polish start.

Late in the game, after being tied 22-22,
Canada missed two serves and had a mishandled set to put them behind 24-22.

“We needed to do simple things at that moment,” said head coach Glenn Hoag, “but we made it complicated for ourselves and we couldn’t manage at the end of the match.”

Hoag tried to find the right combination to captain his offence, swapping setters mid-way through the second set with Dustin Schneider in to replace starter Joshua Howatson. The team also faced a number of challenges in the middle position with team captain Louis-Pierre Mainville and Adam Simac combining for only four points and double that in errors.

Poland didn’t have to respect our middle,” Hoag commented. “So they sent their blockers to the outside which made it harder to score.”

Although the Palatrieste stadium was awash in red and white this evening, the colours were of nearby
Poland, whose fans had only a short two-hour journey to reach the Italian coastal town of Trieste. Rowdy Polish supporters were happy to see their team win, but Canada also earned a measure of respect from their opponent’s coaching staff.

“We didn’t expect
Canada to be that strong,” said Polish coach Daniel Castellani. “In the first two sets they showed strong attacks and outstanding defence.”

Leading all scorers for
Canada with 11 points was offside hitter Gavin Schmitt from Saskatoon. Said Schmitt, “we showed that we can play at that level, but we lost on consistency”. The 204cm Schmitt is at a level of his own with an impressive 364cm spike reach (a stat that puts him in an elite group of competitors in this tournament). But he too struggled with his hitting efficiency and ended the match on the receiving end of five stuff blocks.

Canada will face one of the medal favourites, Serbia, tomorrow at 5pm local time. Their last pool match comes Monday, September 27 against Germany. Only the top three in the pool of four advance to the second round.

Other statistical leaders included Fred Winters with 9 points.

Canadian team roster for the 2010 FIVB Men’s World Volleyball Championships

Players: Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Louis-Pierre Mainville, Notre-Dame de l’Isle, Que.; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Nicolas Cundy, Edmonton; Toon Van Lankvelt, Rivers, Man.; Frederic Winters, Victoria; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Adam Kaminski, Chatham, Ont.; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Olivier Faucher of Plessisville, Que.; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Justin Duff, Winnipeg.

Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau

Team manager: Julien Boucher, Quebec City