Canada recorded a three-set victory over China on Wednesday to improve to 3-1 in the men’s volleyball Olympic qualifying tournament.
Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ontario led the charge with 20 points, four aces and 16 kills in Xi’an as Canada shut out host China 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 26-24).
Eric Leoppky of Steinbach, Man., scored 17 points and a 77 percent success rate, while Jordan Schnitzer of Surrey, B.C., contributed 10 points.
“The boys stayed focused, despite being tired from the long, drawn-out [five-set] match against poland [on Monday] We kept getting back to the game plan and getting those break points when we needed them most,” Canada captain and two-time Olympian Nicholas Hoag told Volleyball Canada.
The victory moved Canada into second place in Group C behind Poland (4-0). The Canadians have nine points, one less than Poland and one more than Argentina (3-1) and Belgium (2-2).
Only the top two countries from each of the tournament’s three groups advance to the Paris Olympics next summer.
SEE | Canada blanks China and improves to 3-1 in Olympic qualifier:
“We knew it was going to be a tough match because there was a different kind of pressure because we knew we needed the win,” Canada head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo said. “China caused us a lot of problems in attack, we were a little better and that was the key. And we were able to close the sets, so good work by the team.
“As I say after every game, now we recover and focus on our next opponent, which will be a difficult game against a very physical Bulgaria. [outfit]”.
The game against No. 25 Bulgaria (2-2) is scheduled for Thursday at 10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on CBCSports.cathe CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
The Canadians will then battle No. 21 Belgium (Friday, 10 p.m.) and No. 22 Mexico (Sunday, 4 a.m.) in a round-robin pool match.
“Our destiny is in our hands, but we have Bulgaria and Belgium who have been playing very well and it will be two very difficult games,” Hoag said. “And then Mexico to finish [the tournament] and they are a fighting team with good defense.”
Silver medal in NORCECA event
Canada, ranked 14th in the world, opened the tournament on Saturday with a five-set victory over the 11th-ranked Netherlands and defeated No. 6 Argentina in four sets the next day.
Last month, Canada fell to the United States in the gold medal match at the NORCECA Continental Championships in Charleston, West Virginia.
Canada entered the final with a 3-0 record after a semifinal victory over Cuba and sweeps over the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
The Canadians have made five appearances in Olympic men’s volleyball and recorded their best result at Los Angeles 1984 with a bronze medal. Canada was defeated in the quarterfinals in Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2021).
The women finished third in their group nine days ago in Ningbo, China, missing out on a chance to clinch an Olympic spot and instead will likely have to improve on their No. 11 world ranking next summer to qualify for the tournament. 12 teams.
SEE | Complete coverage of the Group C match: Canada vs. China:
#20 Jordan Canham— Avonmore, Ont.
#13 Samuel Cooper— hamilton
#97 Landon Currie— Coldstream, British Columbia
#6 Danny Demyanenko— toronto
#1 Pearson Eshenko- Banff, Alta.
#2 Luke Herr – Winnipeg
#4 Nicholas Hoag— Sherbrooke, Que.
#5 Brodie Hofer— Langley, British Columbia
#80 Eric Loeppky— Steinbach, man.
#18 Justin Lui Pickering, Ont.
#7 Stephen Maar— Aurora, Ont.
#16 Jordan Schnitzer— Surrey, British Columbia
#14 Arthur Szwarc— toronto
#12 Lucas Van Berkel— Edmonton
#8 Brett Walsh calgary