It goes without saying that yesterday’s win over Bulgaria was huge. Not only did Canada defeat another Top Ten team, but they did it with heart and grit. As Adam Simac said yesterday “We used a bit of that hockey mentality to get it done.”
With the day off today, Canada will be getting ready for three games in as many days. What should make most Canadian fans smile, however, is the opponents coming up. The boys in Red and White will face Egypt tomorrow, Mexico on Saturday, and China on Sunday, and none of those teams strike any particular fear in our hearts. With the crucial two-points from the Bulgaria win, and with our opponents from yesterday still having to play Russia, Canada is in a fantastic position to finish second in Pool C.
But let me tell you a little secret: as long as you finish top four in your pool, ranking means nothing. If I’m reading the schedule properly (which I like to think I am), Pool C will crossover with Pool B to form Pool F. In this Second Phase, each team will play four matches - against the four teams from the other pool. If you’re following, that means that regardless if Canada plays 1st or 4th in Pool C, they’ll face the same teams in Phase 2.
Canada will take on Egypt tomorrow morning at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT. Volleyball Source is your go-to for live streams of the match!
So with that, let’s check in to see how the Pools are shaping up.
Poland and Serbia opened the tournament with an incredible match in front of 62,000 fans where the home side came away with a 3-0 victory, thrilling the thousands in attendance. Since then, their matches in Wroclaw have essentially been parties, and why wouldn’t they? The best volleyball fans in the world are cheering on their team who has yet to drop a set. They made quick work of Australia on Tuesday and did the same to Venezuela today to sit atop of the group with nine points.
Serbia rebounded from their opening loss to the hosts with a pair of wins, 3-1 victories over Argentina and Australia. With only Cameroon and Venezuela remaining, we’re confident in saying that the 2010 Bronze medallist’s will be moving on to Phase 2.
Argentina currently sits in second with six points and a 2-1 record. With matches still to come against Poland and Australia, this team from South America will be looking to walk away with at least one more win that should secure third in Pool A. However, the VolleyRoos will have something to say about that. They surprised everyone by winning Group 2 of the World League this summer to advance to the Group 1 finals, and always have the potential of ruining someone’s dreams. Regardless of the outcome of this match, we expect both teams to move on to the Second Phase.
Another Pool that seems to be going on without a hitch, and one that Canadian fans will want to pay particular attention to, is Pool B. The top four from this pool will be joining Canada in Pool F (barring any crazy upsets, of course). Leading the pool, to no one’s surprise, is Brazil. The No. 1 team in the world coasted through their first two matches, easily handing Germany and Tunisia 3-0 losses.
The Germans managed to bounce back with a 3-0 win of their own over Cuba, with Gregor Grozer leading with with 19 points in the victory. If the Germans are going to match their soccer’s teams success from this summer, Grozer will have to be lights out.
At first glance in this group, many would think that Cuba would be one of the favourites, having grabbed the silver medal in Italy in 2010. But as those who follow NORCECA will know, Cuba’s fall from grace since then has been dramatic, and getting out of the pool will be an accomplishment for this team. They’ve already suffered two losses, with the 3-2 loss to Finnland being the real dagger. On the flip side, Canada’s friendly foes the Finns are in a prime position to move on after the win paired with their 3-1 victory over Korea.
While Tunisia is still mathematically alive, our feeling is that the Cuba vs. Korea match tomorrow morning will help round out the group. Whoever wins that one should join Brazil, Serbia, and Finland in Pool F.
Canada has been the surprise of Pool C, rebounding from a 3-0 to No. 2 Russia with a gritty five-set win over Bulgaria. As mentioned in the opening, with matches against Egypt, Mexico and China remaining, they sit in good position to take either the second or third spot.
China has made a strong case to moving on, having already defeated both Egypt and Mexico, separating themselves from the bottom of the group. They still must face all three of the stronger teams in the pool, but unless the other two can pull off on upset, that should be safe to move on.
This pool is quite aptly named, since it is without a doubt the Pool of Death. You have to feel sorry for Puerto Rico, since they have the U.S., Italy, Iran, Belgium and and France to compete with. And as we’ve see so far, no one is safe in the Pool of Death.
Iran was the team to jump out to the hot start with a stunning 3-1 victory over Italy and followed it up with a five-set triumph over World League Champions the U.S. This was the Americans second match that went the distance, as they defeated Belgium 3-2 in their opener.
Italy’s chances of moving on seemed precarious when they trailed France 2-0 on Tuesday, but they stormed back to salvage two points and take the match in five. They continued getting back on track with a 3-1 win over Belgium this afternoon, where Belgium came within inches of forcing yet another fifth-set when they held set point, but Italy fought back to claim the match with a 28-26 victory.
Of course, not to be outdone, France followed their breakdown with a five-set thriller this morning, handing Iran their first loss of the tournament, allowing them to rule the Pool of Death for the time being with seven points.
One thing is for sure, one of these teams will be going home after the weekend is over.
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