Tough loss for Canada to open Pan American Cup men’s volleyball tournament

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Canada squandered a two set lead and lost in five to Brazil on Tuesday night in its opening match at the nine-country Pan American men’s volleyball tournament being held at Roberto Clemente Stadium.

 

The Brazilians, ranked number-one in the world, but fielding a young team for the tournament took the two hour plus match 16-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-8. With the victory Brazil moves to 2-0 and clinches pool A. 

“We had a very good start but we didn’t execute well from the fourth set on,” Canadian Coach Glenn Hoag explained. “We have a lot of work to do in our preparation for the World Championship at the end of the year. But basically we had a good game.”

The Canadians, ranked 20th in the world, appeared headed to a comfortable victory winning the first two sets and leading 17-12 in the third. But the Brazilians staged an impressive rally earning 10 of the next 11 points en route to a third set win. 

 

“We relaxed too much and got too complacent,” said Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon. “We waited for them to make mistakes and weren’t as aggressive in the last three sets. It took the pressure off them and they were able to execute against us.”

 

Canada appeared to have found its game again late in the fourth set moving into a 22-19 lead on some great blocking and smashing by Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., but the resilient Brazilians reeled off five straight points to move in set point position.

 

“We took a lot from this game,” said Schmitt. “The key to success for us is to play our system and we implemented that in the first two sets. It showed what we could do. Once we are confident with that we are going to put more pressure on the other teams.”

Top Canadian scorers were Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., with 14 points,  Adam Simac of Ottawa with 13, Fred Winters of Victoria with 12 and  Schmitt with 10.

In pool C play, Argentina also clinched first spot with a 25-13, 25-19, 25-22 victory over Venezuela. In the B pool, the U.S., fielding its A2 squad opened against Mexico later on Tuesday.

 

On Wednesday, Canada faces Colombia (0-1) in the final round robin match for both squads with a berth in the quarterfinals on the line. The match will be carried live at 4 p.m. (EDT) on mediasports.tv.  Canada won the silver at the last two Pan Am Cups losing in the final to the U.S., each time.