The Canadian men's volleyball team wrapped up Group 1 play with a 3-1 victory over Italy at the World League event in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sunday.

"I am very proud of how our team fought for every point for the past three weekends," said Canada's head coach Stephane Antiga. "The players should be very happy with what they accomplished so far in Group 1. We are looking forward to going to Brazil."

Canada lost the first set 20-25, but stormed back to rattle off set victories of 25-22, 25-14, and 25-22 to clinch the win.

Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ont., had 20 points to top Canada, while 18-year-old Sharone Vernon-Evans of Toronto had 16 points.

The Canadians finished with five wins and four losses, and then had to wait for the United States versus Poland game later Sunday to learn their fate. The Americans' win over Poland guaranteed them a spot in the Final Six, July 4-8 in Brazil. The six teams will be split into two pools of three, with each playing two matches. The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals and finals.

France was the top performer in pool play with eight wins and only one loss.


The FIVB World League is the premier annual men's volleyball tournament with a total of 36 participating teams.

The 36 teams have been split into three groups of 12 teams and will play the preliminary round in a pool format over three weeks, before the best teams gather for the finals in each group.

Due to their strong play last season, Canada has been promoted to the top tier in this year's event, known as Group 1.

With files from The Canadian Press