Decisive weekend for Canada in World LeagueOSAKA, Japan, (July 5, 2013) Canada' head coach Glenn Hoag expressed optimism on Friday about his team's chances to qualify for the World League Finals ahead of this weekend's Group C matches against Japan.
"We're still in the race for first place," he noted. "But our fate is not in our hands. We need to focus on playing Japan and improving our volleyball."
Canada still has a shot at advancing to the finals in Mar del Plata, Argentina, later this month but it is now all down to one match. The Canadians (6-2) are currently second in Group C with 18 points but have now fallen three points behind leader the Netherlands.
The Dutch defeated Finland 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 on Friday and can take the group and the World League finals spot on Saturday with another win over Finland in their last preliminary round match.
Canada has four straight matches, including sweeps of South Korea and Finland the past two weeks.
Only one team from Group C advances.
Japan (3-5) is fifth in Group C with eight points after splitting with Portugal last weekend and will be playing just for pride this weekend.
Canada is paced by John Gordon Perrin, who has tallied 86 points this season. The team has played the past several matches without star Gavin Schmitt, who remains sidelined with a lower body injury.
"We have been playing good lately," said Hoag. "We have been playing well as a group. We have been good on block defense and also receiving well. We are keeping our errors low."
Tatsuya Fukuzawa leads Japan with 149 points, making him the fifth highest scorer during the campaign.
"Since the beginning of the World League our team has been getting familiar with one another and the staff," commented Japan's head coach Sato. "We are improving by leaps and bounds. With a bit more time I think we will be a good team."
The 24th FIVB World League, which offers $5.7 million in prize money, features 18 teams split into three pools of six that compete in a five-round, 10-match format.
The top two teams from Group A and B advance to the six-team finals, along with host Argentina.
Bulgaria (14 points) and Brazil (13 points) are presently atop Group A, while Italy (17 points) and Russia (16 points) lead Group B.
Poland won the World League last year, while the United States finished second.
This weekend's broadcast times:
Canada vs. Japan
Saturday, July 6 @ 01 a.m. EST
Tape delayed on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific (National) @ 9:30 a.m.; Tape delayed on Sportsnet One @ 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 7 @ 01 a.m. EST
Tape delayed on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific (National) @ 9:30 a.m.; Tape delayed on Sportsnet One @ 9:30 p.m.
Canada’s World League roster for matches July 6-7 in Osaka, Japan.
Players: Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Louis-Pierre Mainville, Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile Perrot, Que.; Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Blair Bann, Edmonton; Fred Winters, Victoria; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man.; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Jason Derocco, East St. Paul, Man.; Rudy Verhoeff, Calgary; Justin Duff, Winnipeg; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Graham Vigrass, Calgary.
Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.
Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau, Que.
Team manager : Julien Boucher, Quebec City
Statistician : Murat Haktanir
Therapist: Mathieu Séguin
www.volleyball.ca and www.fivb.org