Canadian men come up short in 1st Olympic volleyball bid
Will get another chance to qualify in January at Continental qualifying tourney
Canada rallied for a five-set victory over host China on Saturday but it wasn't enough to keep the men's volleyball team's hopes alive to clinch an automatic berth for next summer's Olympics in Tokyo.
A stuff block by TJ Sanders of London, Ont., cemented a 17-15 victory in the fifth and deciding set in Ningbo after Canada fell behind 13-11 and China couldn't close matters with two match points.
Canada keeps the Olympic qualification hopes alive in this tournament, with a nail-biting 5-set win over China <a href="https://twitter.com/VBallCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VBallCanada</a> <a href="https://t.co/l1gAcGOynP">pic.twitter.com/l1gAcGOynP</a>—@CBCOlympics
Argentina, which downed Canada 3-1 on Friday, tops the Group F standings with two wins and six points, followed by China and the Canadians, each at 1-1, but the Chinese hold a 4-3 edge in points entering the final game for each squad on Sunday. Only the top team from each of the six divisions clinches an Olympic berth.
"We are very disappointed with the results," Canada captain Gord Perrin told Volleyball Canada after the match. "I think we were outplayed this weekend and we have to live it and focus on the next opportunity moving forward.
The Canadian men, who face Finland at 3 a.m. ET on Sunday in China, could still secure an Olympic spot in January following the Continental Olympic qualifying tourneys.
Canada head coach Glenn Hoag said his charges struggled in the first set with service reception against Zhejia Zhang, who finished Saturday's contest with 19 points, including five aces.
Ryan Sclater led the Canadians with 20 points versus China, followed by Nick Hoag with 19.
The teams exchanged wins in the first four sets, with China prevailing 26-24 before the Canadians won 25-21. Canada took a two sets to one advantage with a 25-17 victory before the Chinese forced a deciding by eking out a 25-23 decision.
In the deciding set, China had a chance to pull away when a kill attempt by Hoag sailed out of bounds to give the hosts a 11-9 advantage. But a key dig in the backcourt by Edmonton's Blair Bann and a critical Sclater kill with Canada trailing 12-10 kept the game close.
A poor serve by Graham Vigrass put China up 13-11 before Canada battled back to even matters.