Canada's men's indoor national has suffered their first loss of Rio 2016 to world No. 1 Brazil 3-1 (24-26, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17) at the Maracanazinho last night.
Despite the loss, it was a gritty performance that Canada can take multiple positives from. They went toe-to-toe with the world's top team, and proved once again they're to be taken seriously at their first Olympics in 24 years.
Brazil's offence was firing on all cylinders tonight - with Bruno working his magic that had four of his hitters in double digits, led by the monster outside duo of Lucarelli and Mauricio who scored 16 and 15 respectively. For anyone who was wondering if Brazil would suffer from the absence of Murilo: the answer is no.
Gord Perrin led Canada with 15 points, while Nick Hoag chipped in 14 of his own - four of those coming in the form of stuff blocks. Libero Blair Bann was also impressive tonight - clocking in six digs while leading the leading in serve receive with over a 50% success rate.
One thing Canadian fans will want to follow will be the health status of opposite hitter Gavin Schmitt. The Saskatoon native seemed to have tweaked his shoulder on a play late in the first set, and was subbed off in the third after scoring 12 points in obvious discomfort.
With near 12,000 fans behind them, Brazil came out firing on all cylinders, forcing the Maple Volleys to play catch up early. Down 21-17, they battled back by tightening up their serve and block game and forcing Brazil to make a few errors. Down 24-23, Rudy Verhoeff came in just time for a few tough floatters - finishing the comeback with a 26-24 win.
Going down 1-0 is now familiar territory for Brazil, and they showed throughout the rest of the match why they're favoured to win gold. Not succumbing to panic, they picked up where they had left off and continued the relentless onslaught. Bruno's ability to run a dominating offence through the middle and the fast pace of delivery to the outside creates endless seams for his attackers.
While Canada stuck around and pressured the hosts throughout - they were never able to regain the upper hand they briefly held at the end first. Their best chance was late in the third as they were in the midst of a run - only to be stopped by a questionable reach-over call on Gord Perrin.
With the loss, the Maple Volleys sit evenly at 1-1 in Pool A, in a tie with France for third. Ahead of them sit Brazil and Italy, who handed the USA another loss today to remain undefeated, at 2-0, while Mexico joins their neighbours to the north at 0-2
Next up for the Maple Volleys is a date with France at 4:00 p.m. EST/ 1:00 p.m. PST on Thursday. Currently ranked No. 10 in the world, the French team is one of the hottest in the FIVB. They won the 2015 FIVB World League by going undefeated, a first in World League history, and followed with the 2015 CEV European Champions - a first for Les Bleus.