Canada shakes off slow start at volleyball World Cup to beat Australia
Improved block defence, Stephen Maar's 24 points key second straight win
Improved block defence helped Canada's men's volleyball team overcome a slow start and earn a second consecutive victory at the FIVB World Cup in Japan.
Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ont., scored a game-high 24 points as the Canadians reeled off three straight wins after the dropping the opening set to Australia at the Nagano White Ring arena.
"I think we played pretty good block defence today, which is usually important for us, especially the blocking phase," team captain Nicholas Hoag said after the 18-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-22 decision.
Head coach Daniel Lewis said his players were hurting themselves with errors at the net – Hoag counted nine or 10 net touches - and wondered if fatigue was a factor or simply being a little too aggressive.
While outscored 57-55 on the attack, the Canadians held a 12-4 advantage in blocks.
'Not ready' in the opening set
The Canadians improved their record to 2-3 and sit ninth of 12 teams in the single round-robin competition. Next up is winless Tunisia (0-5) on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET at Hiroshima's Green Arena.
Lewis said Sunday's win was important to build momentum and keep the players positive while adding his charges didn't prepare properly — "we were not ready in the first set — but recovered after making adjustments.
Australian coach Mark Lebedew said his 1-4 squad wasn't ready to be active.
"We wait for the other team to do things," he explained. "And when you let good teams play and see what they do, it turns out they will beat you every single time. At some point we have to learn this lesson."
Ryley Barnes added 10 points for Canada, which finished seventh at the last World Cup in 2015.