Canada wins thriller to advance to Olympic qualifying final

LONG BEACH, California (May 11, 2012) – Canada showed its bench strength to defeat Puerto Rico in a five-set thriller on Friday to advance to the final and play for a spot in the Olympics Games at the NORCECA Olympic qualifier in men’s volleyball.

The set scores were 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11.  Canada will face either the U.S., or Cuba which met in the other semi held later Friday.  The championship match is at 11 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday.  The winner goes to the London Games.

‘’Puerto Rico is a team you can never take for granted,’’ said setter Dustin Schneider of Brandon, Man.  ‘’They won’t back down and they kind of stunned us in the beginning.’’

Schneider and right side Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., came off the bench in the third set and played pivotal roles in Canada’s victory.  Soonias was one of five Canadians to reach double digits in points with 12 including four kills and two blocks in the fifth set.

‘’Sometimes in volleyball a team can get a beat on how you are playing,’’ said Schneider, in his first big match test since undergoing knee surgery in March.  ‘’Dallas and I play a bit differently and the change up seem to work. It just shows how everyone on this team can contribute.’’

Team captain Fred Winters of Victoria was once again a tower of strength for Canada with 19 points.  Justin Duff of Winnipeg, Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., and Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon all added 13 apiece.

‘’We’ll need to impose our rhythm more in the final,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau. ‘’Be more aggressive and not find ourselves playing catch up.’’

Canada is vying for its first Olympic appearance in men’s volleyball since 1992.












Left Sides: Nicholas Cundy, Edmonton; Toontje Van Lankvelt, Rivers, Man.; Fred Winters, Victoria; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.


Middle Blockers: Justin Duff, Winnipeg; Steve Brinkman, Bowmanville, Ont.; Adam Kaminski, Chatham, Ont.


Right Sides: Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon.


Setters: Josh Howatson, Victoria; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man;


Liberos: Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.


Head Coach: Glenn Hoag

Asst Coach: Vincent Pichette

Team Manager: Julien Boucher

Statistician: Christopher Galbraith

Physiotherapist: Mathieu Seguin