After two wins (against Finland and world number-one Brazil) Team Canada lost their first match in the 2012 World League. They were stopped by the efficient block and defense of Poland. The Canadians had a good start winning the first set but the Poles made things harder from the second set as they adjusted their block and defense. Poland made a comeback to win 3-1 (17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19) in just under two hours. It was a big party for the Polish crowd in house as those supporters were the majority of the 4,200 people on Sunday evening at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.
The Poles (ranked number four on FIVB rank) grabbed a bronze medal at 2011 World League and a silver at 2011 World Cup. Polish opposite Zbigniew Bartman was unstoppable hammering Canada’s defense. He scored 31 points (29 kills and two blocks). On Canada’s side, opposite Gavin Schmitt played in the first two sets and returned in the third just to serve. Schmitt was the main Canadian scorer with 13 points (10 kills and three blocks).
Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag made some criticism after the defeat. “Poland gave us a volleyball lesson tonight. At times we looked like a junior team. It was a difficult match, we couldn’t execute. Every match from here on in will be a test for us and a learning process”, he remarked.
Captain Fred Winters, Canada’s most experienced left side, acknowledged the team’s problems at the game. “I thought we would be ready especially after a good first set, but in the last three sets we needed to do a better job. They had so many blocks we couldn’t score. We need to improve our hitting game”, Winters said.
Poland’s head coach Andrea Anastasi was happy as his team played their best match on the weekend. “I’m happy we came back to play a very good match. It wasn’t perfect, but our defence and block were good. This is always a hard tournament, you have to fight hard to get the win”.
Earlier on Sunday Brazil also made a comeback to beat Finland 3-1 (23-25, 25-13, 25-22, 31-29). Team Brazil had lost their first two matches 2-3 to Poland and Canada. “All the teams fought hard and it made for some wonderful volleyball for the public. Our teamwork today was a little more consistent. We didn’t do as well as we wanted here but we are headed in the right direction” affirmed Brazil’s legendary head coach Bernardo Rezende. Brazil is vying for its tenth World League title.
Despite Sunday’s loss, it was a successful weekend for the Canadians and the entire tournament stop, informed Volleyball Canada. On Saturday in front of 8,100 fans and a national TV audience, Canada upset Brazil. Of the three venues that hosted Word League play this weekend (Florence, Italy and Hamamatsu, Japan were the others) Toronto had the largest crowds.
The 2012 World League has 16 teams split in four pools. Canada, Brazil, Finland, and Poland are in pool B. Their next stop is in two weeks in Katowice, Poland. This coming weekend pool D (Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, and Portugal) will start in Frankfurt, Germany while others have a break.