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Vigrass caps off Canadian campaign with winning effort

 

Jiangmen, China, June 24, 2018 - Canada applied some polish to their 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-22) victory over Japan on Sunday that saw Graham Vigrass the star of their show with a team-leading 18 points.

The 29-year-old middle blocker had been among the mainstays of the Canadians' campaign and once again led from the front with 13 kills from 16 attempts as well as two blocks.

Canada had beaten hosts China 3-0 on Saturday but their slim hopes for making the VNL finals were virtually extinguished after a 0-3 run coming in to that match, rounded out by a crushing 3-0 loss to Serbia on Friday night.

Other performers for Canada at the Jiangmen Sports Centre on Sunday were wing spiker Nicholas Hoag and middle blocker Arthur Szwarc with 10 apiece. It was a quiet afternoon however for wing spiker Stephen Maar, but his three points still saw him the Canadians' leading scorer for the tournament with 165 points.

Japanese coach Yuichi Nakagaichi decided to rest his team's VNL standout Yuji Nishida for the first two stanzas, given the 18-year-old opposite spiker had shouldered much of the heavy work for his team throughout the series. Nishida sparked a revival for his side when he did come off the bench - adding five points in the last set - and the teenager has well and truly announced himself on the global stag with a team-leading 187 points across the VNL.

Stepping up for the Japanese on Sunday were opposite Issei Otake with 13 points, as well as wing spiker Masahiro Yanagida, who contributed 11 to his team's tally.

With the VNL finals line-up have already been finalized earlier in the day - Poland nailing down the final spot in the filed of six with their 3-0 win over Australia in Melbourne - pride was on the line, as well as the head-to-head record between the two nations, a figure that stood at 7-6 to the Japanese at world level coming in to the match.

The Canadians can at least take some consolation in the fact that particular ledger has been leveled, while after mixing it with the world's best, Japan can now turn their focus to the Asian Games which start in Jakarta in August.

The result saw Canada finish the inaugural VNL series with a 8-7 record, while Japan ended at 6-9.

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