After three matches in pool play, the Canadian Men’s National Team sits at 2-1 in its debut in Group 1 of the FIVB World League. They took down Belgium in five sets to open things up as John Gordon Perrin led the way with 21 points. That was followed by a match against the United States in which Canada came down from 2-1 to upset the United States in five sets. They ended the weekend falling to defending World League Champion Serbia in four.
Graham Vigrass was one of the team’s top performers as he tied for the Group 1 lead with 11 blocks in the opening weekend. He also tallied 40 points among the three matches, good for second on the team. John Gordon Perrin was the only one who scored more, netting 51. That mark puts him just a single point shy of the top five points leaders from Group 1. Sharone Vernon-Evans (31) and Bradley Robert Gunter (29) finished third and fourth on Canada in points in the opening weekend.
“I am satisfied with our overall performance in this tournament,” Canadian head coach Stephane Antiga told FIVB. “Serbia played much better than yesterday (against Belgium), so we had a really difficult job. In the end, we have grown as a team and I expect us to be much better in the future matches.”
Even though Canada held a winning record, it wasn’t enough to usurp itself into the top half of the group, as they finished third in Pool B2 with four points. Belgium and Serbia ended with more because their wins came in less than five sets – and for Belgium their loss came in five, tacking on another point.
Pool B1 Final Standings:
At the end of the day, that specific quartet won’t matter as much, as the groups rotate weekend to weekend and eventually all of the teams are pushed into one big table. Currently in that big table, Canada would be sitting sixth of the 12 teams in Group 1.
The Final Six will consist of the host (Brazil) and the other five best teams. With Brazil in third, Canada would just squeak in to the elimination round at the moment. This upcoming weekend as they switch to Pool E1, Canada will have an opportunity to face a couple teams that sit in front of them in the standings: 2016 FIVB World League runner-up Brazil (currently third) on Friday and Poland (currently fifth) on Sunday. Bulgaria (currently ninth of 12 teams) will be sandwiched in between on Saturday.
It’ll be tough sledding from here, as the Canadians still face the teams currently ranked first, second, third and fifth in their final six games over the next two weeks, but perspective is important as it’s a winning start for Canada who just moved up to Group 1 this year for the first time after winning Group 2 in 2016.