Canada Defeats Puerto Rico in Straight Sets

Lewis, Winters and Brinkman celebrate a point against the Ricans (Photo: Norceca)

With great performances from left side Toon Van Lankvelt, opposite hitter Gavin Schmitt and middle blocker Steve Brinkman, Team Canada smashed Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-13) this Tuesday in their second match in the Norceca Olympic qualifier. Facing a stronger opponent than in the previous day (when they beat Dominican Republic also in three) Canadians had a better test and are looking forward to taking on Cuba this Wednesday. Earlier the Cubans defeated the Dominicans in straight sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-15), same way they did against the Ricans in the first day. These four teams play in pool B.

Like their first match, the Canadians took a little over an hour to win. The line-up was Lankvelt and Fred Winters (left sides), Brinkman and Justin Duff (middles), Josh Howatson (setter), Gavin Schmitt (opposite), and Dan Lewis (libero). Lankvelt was the match top scorer with 16 points having 10 kills and impressive six blocks. Schmitt added 14 points, and veteran Brinkman scored eight as well as six blocks. Canada had a total of 15 blocks while the Ricans blocked three times. Although the Canadian blocking was strong, the serve didn’t bother the opponents. This is something that will probably make coach Glenn Hoag request an extra effort to brake the inconstant Cuban reception in the next match. The Canadian passing line remained strong with Winters, Lankvelt and Lewis.

Dallas Soonias (opposite) and Dustin Schneider (setter) played in the 5-1 rotation in the first two sets. Later in the middle of the third, Soonias subbed Schmitt directly, as the game was under Canada’s control and the coach decided to give the starter a rest while letting the back-up opposite get more rhythm. Also in the third set Nicholas Cundy (left side) and Adam Kaminski (middle) subbed Winters and Duff respectively. Both Cundy and Kaminski hadn’t played in the first match against the Dominicans.

If Canada beats Cuba, they will get a bye to the semis playing against the winner of the match involving the second in pool A (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago) versus third in pool B. If they lose to the Cubans, they will play the third of pool A in the quarterfinals (probably meeting USA in the semis) once Canada advances. Only the qualifier champion gets a berth to London Olympics.