Champions League miracle for Canadian flavoured IzmirLODZ, Poland – Canadian national team head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que., directed Izmir Arkas to a stunning elimination of Belchatow, Poland men’s Champions League volleyball first round playoff action on Wednesday night.
The Izmir squad, based in Turkey, also includes national team players Justin Duff of Winnipeg (number-six in photo), Adam Simac of Ottawa and Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., who combined for 28 points in the nearly three-hour match played before 12,000 fans at the Atlas Arena.
Belchatow had won last week’s opening match in Izmir in four sets but on Wednesday the Turkish squad rebounded with a thrilling 25-14, 21-25, 25-22, 18-25, 20-18 win. This forced a golden set to decide which team advanced to the final six. Izmir took the ultimate set 15-12.
In the fifth set, Belchatow held an 8-4 lead then later squandered match point three times.
Perrin was Izmir’s second best scorer with 12 points, Duff added nine including three on blocks and Simac seven.
Izmir advances to the final six with a two-match series versus Kedzierzyn-Kozle, which is also in Poland.
Canadian national team veteran Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., saw his Champions League season end as ACH Bled from Slovenia lost both its matches to Cuneo, Italy.
The Champions League tournament determines the top pro club in Europe.