Canada's men's volleyball team knocked out in quarters at Tokyo Olympics
Team falls short in quest for country's 1st Olympic medal in volleyball
Canada's men's volleyball team was knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics with a straight-sets (21-25, 28-30, 22-25) loss to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in the quarter-finals at Ariake Arena on Monday.
Canada was searching for its first-ever Olympic medal in volleyball, men's or women's. But the team suffered the same fate it met at the Rio Olympics in 2016, finishing fifth at the hands of the Russians.
"You can tell that this game was way more competitive than the one in Rio," Canada's Nicholas Hoag said. "It was so much fun to play. We were more comfortable today and we know we can beat those guys. There's no regrets because we had a great tournament overall."
Canada couldn't keep up with the ROC in the opening set, but it managed to respond after a slow start and tie things up late in the second. Canada saved five set points, but the ROC maintained pressure and claimed another set.
Canada kept things close but ultimately trailed throughout the third against a relentless offence as the ROC closed things out.
Team captain Gord Perrin led Canada with 15 points, while Ryan Sclater had his best match of the tournament with 14 points.
"We've had some big moments since Rio on the international stage," Perrin said. "If you look at it, it's not just about the Olympics. We played well at other tournaments. We just couldn't take that last step."
WATCH l Canada's men's volleyball team suffers quarter-final loss to ROC:
Canada faced a tough test against the ROC in Tokyo. The team finished first in its pool with a 4-1 record during the group stage and is currently ranked No. 3 in the world. No. 10 Canada was coming off a straight-sets loss to No. 2 Poland in its final preliminary round match on Saturday, finishing the group stage with a 2-3 record.
Sclater fired a shot past Ivan Iakovlev and followed it up with his second ace of the tournament to bring Canada within three points at 9-6.
The teams continued to exchange points until the ROC took a 13-10 lead on an ace from Igor Kobzar. Canada struggled to hold on as its opponents gained separation, calling a timeout to slow the momentum. Mikaelavov drilled his second ace of the game to give his team a commanding 20-13 lead.
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Canada's Sharone Vernon-Evans came into the game, but he was soon denied at the net by a block from Egor Kliuka. Vernon-Evans turned the tables and shut down Kliuka with a block of his own, but the Canadians couldn't hold on as a tip from Mikhaylov ultimately won the opening set.
Canada began to claw its way back in the second set following a quick start from the ROC, with Hoag notching an ace.
The Canadian squad was fired up after Lucas Van Berkel blocked Mikhaylov at the net, and Hoag added a big kill to move Canada within a point. Sclater blocked Volkov on the following play to tie the game at 11 points apiece.
CANADA BLOCK 🏐🚫<br><br>Down a set to ROC, the Canadian men are looking to take the lead in the second set of their quarter-final matchup at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a><br><br>Watch live: <a href="https://t.co/5j1Wj770r6">https://t.co/5j1Wj770r6</a> <a href="https://t.co/Iwz6gSzVTr">pic.twitter.com/Iwz6gSzVTr</a>—@CBCOlympics
The set remained tight with the teams pulling even again late, and Canada dug deep to save five set points. But Mikhaylov finished it off again with another hammer.
An ace from Perrin moved Canada closer at 22-19, and Sclater added a point on the ensuing play to give his team a jolt of life. But it was once again too little too late, as Volkov blasted a shot off Canada's Blair Bann to seal the sweep.
Canada started the tournament with back-to-back losses to Italy and Japan, but it bounced back to earn consecutive straight-sets wins over Iran and Venezuela. The top four teams in each pool moved on to the quarter-finals, with Canada finishing ahead of Iran on points for fourth place in the group.
"After a tough start we came back and made the quarters, so that was a huge accomplishment for us," Hoag said.
Perrin said the Tokyo Games were likely his final Olympic appearance.
The 31-year-old said playing with his teammates is "what I've enjoyed doing over the past 10 years and that's what I'll miss the most."
Canada's best result in the men's tournament came in 1984 with a fourth-place finish, and it didn't compete on the Olympic stage again until Rio in 2016. Canada hasn't had a women's team qualify for the tournament since 1996.
With files from The Canadian Press