Canada’s national team coach Glenn Hoag said his squad was taught a valuable lesson in a 17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 loss to Poland on Sunday in the conclusion of the first round of World League action in men’s volleyball.
The match attracted more than 4,000 fans, evenly split between those cheering for Canada and for Poland, which gave Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum an electric atmosphere once again.
Poland leads the Group B standings with seven points winning two of their matches. Canada was also 2-1 for six points. Poland gets an extra point because its loss was in five sets.
Brazil defeated Finland earlier Sunday to stand third at 1-2 with five points (both losses in five) and Finland is fourth with three points, also at 1-2.
“We have a very young team and we were really happy to play this weekend with this group,” said Hoag in a statement. “It’s important for them to feel what it’s like play at this level. It’s a great experience that will really help us build for the future.”
On Sunday, Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon scored 13, while Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., had 11 and Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C. 10.
Zbigniew Bartman scored 31 points for Poland.
“We just didn’t bring our game today,” said Canadian team captain Fred Winters of Victoria. “It was great to beat Brazil [on Saturday] but I don’t think there was any hangover from that. What we learned today is we need to be better hitters in particular.
“We couldn’t get anything through their block.”
The match started great for Canada highlighted by strong performances from Schmitt on the attack and Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., on the block. For Poland, Bartman was in top form firing six kills. Poland grabbed an early but Canada roared to a 21-13 finish after the first technical timeout.
Schmitt and Brinkman continued to shine early in the second but Poland eventually started to get untracked dominating the rest of the set with Bartman hammering eight more points.
Poland didn’t lose any momentum going into the third set. Grzegorz Kosok was strong on the block while Bartman carried the offensive load with eight more points. Dallas Soonias played the entire third set for Canada and was a standout with five points.
“At times we looked like a junior team,” said Hoag. “We just couldn’t execute. Poland hit smart and denied us with their block.”
The Canadians were down 3-0 to start the fourth and were never able to get the lead. Gord Perrin capped a strong tournament with two straight service aces late in the set. A giant kill by Michal Kubiak put Poland at set point 24-17. The Canadians never gave up with a kill by Soonias and an ace by setter Howatson. But Howatson’s next serve went into the net to end the game.