FIVB: Canada Splits With Cuba in Havana

The Canadian men’s volleyball team travelled to the Ciudad Deportivo Coliseum in Havana, Cuba for another round of World League action Friday and Saturday night. Canada was looking to take advantage of the young Cuban team’s inexperience and walk away with two more wins. In the end, they had to settle for a split and four of a possible six points.

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Friday night opposite hitter Steven Marshall led the Canadians to a 3-1 (25-14, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21) victory. Marshall, who was replacing a resting Gavin Schmitt, was the matches highest scorer with 17 kills and 1 block. Toontje Van Lankvelt also had a solid game with nine kills, three blocks, and four points from the service line. Roland Cepeda was the highest scorer for team Cuba with 16 points.

Injected with the fresh bodies of libero Dan Lewis and middle blocker Adam Simac, Canada rolled to an easy 25-14 first set win. The young Cubans responded well though, battling their way to a 25-20 win in the second set.

Simac, who was playing his first match of the season looked good early with a big block but was unable to record a kill in four attempts. This made way for 23-year old newcomer Lucas Van Berkel who made his debut in relief of Simac. Van Berkel, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, finished the match with three kills on four attempts.

Canadian coach Glenn Hoag had his other players on short leash too as Fred Winters and Dustin Schneider were subbed in for starters Gord Perrin and T.J. Sanders. With the new look, Canada went on to back-to-back 25-21 wins to take the match.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Canada suffered another disappointing 3-2 (25-17, 25-20, 23-25, 19-25, 12-15) loss Saturday night. After easily winning the first two sets, Canada dropped the next three. It was their first loss to Cuba this year.

Rolando Cepeda led all players with 25 points in the match off 19 kills, three blocks, and three aces. Steven Marshall was once again the top Canadian player with 16 kills and one block.

Canada started the match strong, cruising to a 25-17 first-set win. Middle blocker Adam Simac had a big bounce-back performance after a lacklustre effort last night. He finished with 10 kills and four blocks in the match.

The momentum started to shift in Cuba’s favour in the third set as they dialled in their serve receive game and Canada started committing unforced errors. Canada finished with 34 errors, three of which were back-court violations on Gord Perrin. Cuba had 30 errors.

This is the fourth time that Canada has lost in the fifth set so far in their World League campaign. They were unable to get any production from their outside attackers in the final set with all eight of their kills coming from the middle. Canada hasn’t won a fifth set since beating the USA in the NORCECA Champions Cup on May 23.

The four points solidifies Canada’s lead on top of Pool C with 22 points. Argentina sits at just 10 points, but with four games in hand. Bulgaria is at 12 points but, as the host team, already have a ticket to the next round. Cuba has been mathematically eliminated from making it to the next stage of the competition.

Canada will travel to Argentina next weekend in what will be their biggest weekend of the season so far. If Canada can win the split they will guarantee their spot in the next round. If Argentina wins they could potentially advance if they win their remaining matches against Cuba and Bulgaria.