Canadian men's volleyball team falls short

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 PM ET

The Canadian men's volleyball team will have little room for error Saturday night at Scotiabank Place.

The loss of just one set to Slovakia will severely jeopardize its hopes of advancing to the FIVB Volleyball World League 2012. On Friday, a fourth set comeback that fell short saw Canada, ranked 22nd in the world, lose 3-1 to No. 33 ranked Slovakia before a few thousand fans at SBP.

Trailing 17-8 with their backs to the wall, the Canadians stormed back only to wind up on the back end of a 25-23 final. The rally could help them in the end, however.

"We were pretty tight at the start," said Ottawa's Adam Simac. "I'm sure it was everything to do with playing tight, and not really playing our own game. Once we were down (by nine) we started to flow and play, then we brought it back to within two points. "We showed what we can do at times, but we need to start out like we finished."

Canada needs to beat the Slovaks 3-0 Saturday to avoid a tiebreaker. If the Canadians win 3-1, they winner would be decided by points.

Canada trails by just three points overall. The winner of the leg goes on to play Puerto Rico next month in Kingston, where a berth in the FIVB Volleyball World League 2012.

Canada fought back from a 22-24 deficit before losing the first set 26-28. The home team won the second set, 25-22, then lost set three by a score of 23-25.

The Canadians are not discouraged by the predicament they are in.

"Absolutely," Simac said when asked if the team felt it could still win. "If we play lose like we did in the second, and the end of the fourth, I think we have a very good shot."

Mental mistakes, such as serves into the net, proved costly Friday.

"It's been awhile since we had a high-pressured match like that, and it showed," said head coach Glen Hoag. "We miscued on a couple of things in the third set. At that level those things lose you games.

"I was really happy with the attitude of the team, turning things around. Points are important. We have a match (Saturday) and we've got to play better."

The Canadians disadvantage is in their lack of experience in international matches like the Slovaks.

"They just came off playing European league, so they play twice a week for six or seven weeks, and then they just had the final four last weekend," said Simac. "They're very much a playing team, whereas we're a training team. I guess maybe that tightness was due to a bit of unfamiliarity. I don't know. But I think that after we start playing, it should be just volleyball for everybody." Start time for Saturday's games is 7:30 p.m.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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