World League: Canada rebounds with a win over Australia

Edmonton, AB. June 21, 2014 – One night after suffering a tight 3-2 loss, 11th-ranked Canada earned the split against 14th-ranked Australia thanks to a 3-1 win (27-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18) during FIVB World League play on Saturday, June 21 at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
Canada was once again paced by Gavin Schmitt (Saskatoon, SK), who banked a match-high 23 points, including 21 kills. Nicholas Hoag (Sherbrooke, QC), son of Canadian coach Glenn Hoag, picked up 15 kills in the Saturday victory, and spun a pair of aces to finish with 19 points, while Graham Vigrass (Calgary, AB) had 11 points, as well as the match winning point.
Schmitt led Canada with 31 points one night earlier, but the Canadians couldn’t convert the 2-0 match lead into a win, as the Volleyroos forced their way back into the match and ultimately completed the comeback with a 3-2 win.
Following that loss, Canada started a few new faces on Saturday, including Hoag, who saw limited action on Friday, and those new players seemed to provide a spark for the Canadians. Hoag and Jason DeRocco (East St. Paul, MB), who made his debut for Canada in World League play on Saturday, combined to score 28 points, and both played big parts in the Canadian win. DeRocco, who previously played for the Edmonton-based University of Alberta Golden Bears, scored the opening point of the match, and banked nine points by the end of the night in a homecoming of sorts.
“Obviously we’re pretty happy with the win,” stated Canadian bench boss Glenn Hoag. “It was fun to see our young guys play. We have some guys that are banged up, so it’s was a great chance to test these young guys. For Tyler [Sanders], Jason and Nick it’s their first international presence on the court, so it’s great for us to be able to analyze and see how they can help us. We know they can compete in practice but you never get a sense until they’re in a game. Their focus was pretty good overall. We committed some huge mistakes, but we’re happy with the win. I thought our veterans; Gavin and Dan in particular, showed a lot of leadership to help support the young guys. It was a good match for us. We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s a positive note after last night.”
“Obviously it was a much better performance,” echoed Canadian team captain Fred Winters (Victoria). “I thought DeRocco and Hoag did a good job coming in. They haven’t had a chance to play a lot, but they really lifted us tonight. They brought some excitement, and it was a good bounce back win.”
Team Canada once again jumped out to a 2-0 match lead, much to the delight of the 4,000 fans in attendance, but just like the night before, the match seemed poised to go downhill when the Aussies won the third stanza to force extra sets.
Unlike Friday night, however, the Canadians would not be a denied a win in their final FIVB World League stop on home soil, as they owned the fourth set, winning 25-18, to take the match 3-1.
Australia was led by Lincoln Alexander Williams’ 14 kills on Saturday, while team captain Aidan Zingel had 12 points and Adam White chipped in with 10.
“It was a very difficult night,” noted Zingel. “After winning last night to come out and not perform anywhere near our standard was a really big letdown. Me personally, I’m very disappointed with how I played. There are so many things that I could have done better and so many things that the team could have done better. The fact that we still had our chances in the first set, and that we managed to take the third just makes it even worse. The opportunity was there and we still couldn’t take it so it’s a shame. It’s another weekend where we win one, and we lose one.”
With the win Canada sees their record improve to 5-3 in World League play thus far, which gives them 14 points and keeps them in second place in the Pool C standings. Australia falls to 3-5, but remains in third place. Belgium, ranked 37th in FIVB rankings, owns first place with a 5-2 record and 16 points.
“We definitely needed the three points to stay within reach of Belgium. So I think overall our team play was better today, we dug a lot of balls today and we were pretty steady," said Fred Winters, team captain.
Team Canada will next be in action when they play Finland on June 27-28 in Tampere. They then travel to Australia for two matches against the Volleyroos from July 2-6.

Report by Matt Gutsch for Volleyball Canada

Media contact: Jackie Skender