Road To The Olympic Games


Canada shakes off slow start at volleyball World Cup to beat Australia

Stephen Maar scored a game-high 24 points and the Canadian men reeled off three straight wins after an opening-set loss to Australia to post their second win in a row at the volleyball World Cup on Sunday in Japan.

Improved block defence, Stephen Maar's 24 points key second straight win

Daniel Jansen, left, and Stephen Maar provide a net presence for Canada during its match Sunday against Australia at the volleyball World Cup in Nagano, Japan. The Canadian men had a 12-4 edge in blocking in its three sets to one victory. (Submitted by FIVB)

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.

In the third and fourth sets, Hoag noted, Canada was dropping serves "in the right spots" and put Australian in difficult positions to return the ball.

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.

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