Canadian men in quarterfinals too at Universiade

KAZAN, Russia (July 11, 2013) – The Canadian men’s volleyball team booked its ticket for the quarter-finals on Thursday at the Summer Universiade with a 3-1 (26-24, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17) victory over the Czech Republic.

The red and white finishes second in Pool D with a 3-1 record and will face undefeated Ukraine in the second round Saturday at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET). Canada was fourth at the last Universiade in 2011 in China and has finished in the top six each of the last three FISU Games

“We’ll face a very good team in our next game,” said head coach Larry McKay. “This was a very important game and the guys overcame the nerves and started executing better and play to their potential.”

Canada didn’t get off to the start it was looking for in the must-win affair. Trailing 9-3, 11-5 and then 17-12 in the first set, the winners suddenly found their game to steal the always important opening frame. 

“I can’t say there was really a turning point, but we definitely started to relax out there,” said middle blocker Lucas Van Berkel of Edmonton (Trinity Western University). “We had a couple of key blocks and we forced them to play our game. The crowd was also a factor tonight. We could count on them when we were getting a little tired.”

With the stanza tied at 24, Steven Marshall of Abbotsford, B.C. (Trinity Western) thrilled the many fans from the Canadian delegation with a kill, and Colton de Man of Calgary (Mount Royal) sent the crowd to their feet with a set-winning block.

“We knew it was an important game,” commented Nicholas Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que., who once again led the Canadian attack with a match-high 15 kills. “We still need to work on a couple things, but we’ll be ready for the quarters.”

After cruising to a 25-14 victory in the second set, Canada saw its rivals step it up and extend the affair with a 25-21 win in the third.

Determined to put an end to the contest, the Canucks never trailed in the fourth.

They jumped out to a quick 7-4 lead, which they promptly extended to 16-11. Nothing was going to stop the big red machine after that point and they sealed their quarter-final spot with a 25-17 win.

While Hoag took care of the offence, Van Berkel had a solid overall outing with six blocks, eight kills and six digs.

BOXSCORE: Canada vs CZE

Beach volleyball

In beach volleyball, Melissa Humana-Paredes of Toronto and Taylor Pischke of Winnipeg won three of four matches on the day, the most important coming in the evening’s quarter-finals against Thailand, which pushed the Canadians to three sets.

Humana-Paredes and Pischke are in tough Friday 8 a.m. ET (4 p.m. Kazan) when they battle host Russia on centre court with a spot in the FISU final on the line.

On the men’s side, Grant O’Gorman of Toronto and Samuel Pedlow of Barrie, Ont., recovered from a morning loss with victories over China and Norway. They find now themselves in the quarter-finals, where they will take on Germany 1 Friday at 1 a.m. ET (9 a.m. Kazan).