Indoor Volleyball: Canada Shuts Down USA to Open Olympics
What a way to end a 24 year drought.
The Canadian men's national team has opened the 2016 Rio Olympics with a huge 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-23) upset over the U.S.A. in Pool A competition at the Maracañazinho.
Nick Hoag was crafty all night long, leading Canada with 14 points while Gavin Schmitt was dominant, adding 13 points as Canada frustrated a struggling American side led by Matt Anderson who punched in 15 of his own. The Americans are currently ranked 5th in the world while Canada sits at 12th.
The Maple Volleys kept things simple all match long and stayed calm despite trailing much of the second and third sets. Their serving wasn't electric, with Hoag the only one to rattle off a couple aces, but keeping the errors low and forcing the American serve receive to make tough decisions resulted in nine blocks for the Canadians - many coming at key moments.
Making a total of 28 errors was not the way the 2015 World Cup Champions had imagined starting the Games. The Americans serve receive was frustratingly inconsistent while their serving was even worse - 18 errors as a team and Anderson leading the way with five and no aces, and rare stat line for one of the world's elite. With three starters under the age of 25, you can't help but wonder if the pressure of the games was a little too much for this young, talented squad.
Canada's road will still be tough in the Pool of Death. Italy, France and hosts Brazil still remain as well as a Mexican team who's got nothing to lose - they're far from being out of the woods yet. But it's a huge step in towards the knock-out stage and the 3-0 win will go a long way for the inevitable tie-break at the end of preliminaries.
Most importantly, it's once again a message to the world the Maple Volleys aren't in Rio to be tourists - and it doesn't matter who's in front of them.
Canada's next game is on Tuesday August 9th at 9:30 p.m. when they'll take on the No. 1 team in the world and hosts, Brazil.