The Canadians fought hard in the first set, had some good moments, played strong in defense, but couldn’t keep the level in the last two sets and lost to Brazil in three (25-22, 25-17, 25-11), in their second match of the third World League weekend, held in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. Later Poland beat Finland 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-13). Canada takes on Finland tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. EST to wrap up the third WL stop in pool B. Brazil plays Poland earlier at 8:50 a.m. EST.
Canada’s head coach, Glenn Hoag, made some changes. Opposite Gavin Schmitt, Team Canada’s top scorer in the World League, didn’t play due to a rib injury, but he informed he should be ready to play Finland on Sunday. Dallas Soonias replaced Schmitt, who entered only in the third set to increase the height of the block in one play. Setter Josh Howatson sprained his ankle yesterday playing against Poland and he is out of WL. Olivier Faucher played instead, and Ciaran McGovern will join the team in Finland in the final weekend of pool play, as the back-up setter. Also, Hoag gave libero Blair Bann a chance to play today, replacing veteran Dan Lewis, just to give Bann some rhythm. Team Brazil also floored some subs.
It was Bann’s first match with the A team. He had taken part in the B team that played last year in the Pan Am Games, in Guadalajara, Mexico. “Brazil’s serves were really strong, it was quite a challenge. I had played here before in Brazil with the B team, felt this atmosphere, but playing in the main team against Brazil A is something different. We have a good defense, but we need more patience in transition”, observed Blair Bann. Brazil’s head coach, Bernardo Rezende, said he was impressed with Canada’s back-up libero. “He was targeted by our servers many times and he did well. Canada is usually a team with a solid defense, they touch the ball a lot, it’s not easy to score against them”.
“Poland and Brazil make us look so bad”, said left side and captain Fred Winters, who subbed Gord Perrin in the beginning of first set (Brazil led 4-1), but gave his place to Alexandre Gaumont-Casias in the third. ‘’Our team is too young and we are still learning how to play at a high level. While Brazil and Poland are candidates for medals and are ready for the big games, our team is still learning how to play the top matches”, added Winters. He stressed the importance of Team Canada being able to sustain the level. “A volleyball match can last two hours and a half, for example, but we were there for 30 or 45 minutes. We need to be there”.
The 2012 World League has 16 teams split in four pools. The finals will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 4-8 with six teams: The host, the four pool winners and the best second place.
You can follow the WL matches on http://www.sportlemon.tv/.