Canada loses to France at Olympic men's volleyball qualifier
Canadians' record falls to 2-3
Canada lost to France 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-16) Thursday at the last-chance Olympic men's volleyball qualifying tournament in Tokyo.
"France is one of the better teams in this tournament and in the world — they probably have the best technical level that there is right now in volleyball," said Canada's head coach, Glenn Hoag, who rested some key players in preparation for this weekend's final matches against Japan and China.
"We lack patience and experience against teams like France," said Hoag. "But we are determined to end the tournament well and we're not giving up."
France's Earvin Ngapeth and Antonin Rouzier sparked their team's offence with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Graham Vigrass led Canada with 11 points.
"We had a really difficult time scoring," said Canada's captain Rudy Verhoeff. "It's pretty obvious that the scores are quite lopsided, and they put us in a lot of trouble with their serving and their block defense was very good."
France has four wins and one loss (a five-set battle with Poland) so far at the tournament, putting themselves in favourable position for a Rio berth. Canada has two wins and three losses.
"Now we need to focus on the next two matches, which is what we have to do to get our ticket," said Verhoeff. "We have to mentally prepare for some tough games."
Poland clinches Olympic berth
Meanwhile, Poland clinched the first of three available Olympic berths by beating Venezuela 3-0 on Thursday. Poland is now 5-0 while Venezuela has not won a match.
The top three teams qualify for the Olympics as well as the highest-ranked Asian team. If an Asian team finishes in the top three, the next highest team qualifies.
Canada (2-3, seven points) is fifth in the standings. Iran (4-1, 10 points) currently holds the third spot and China is fourth (2-3, 8 points).
Iran defeated China earlier in the tournament and is the favourite to finish as the highest-ranked Asian team. If this were the case, Canada would still have an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics by finishing as the fourth-ranked team.
The Canadian team plays Japan (1-4) on Saturday and China on Sunday.