Canada celebrate a sweep of their matches on the fourth weekend of the 2019 VNL
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 28, 2019 – After completing a sweep of their FIVB Volleyball Nations League weekend at Hoffman Estates, Canada enter the final week swinging with momentum against Italy in their encounter at Brasilia on Friday.
The Canadians are four points behind Rio 2016 silver medallists Italy in the battle for a Final Six berth. The North American side defeated China, the United States and Japan, respectively, to carry a 7-5 card into week 5’s Pool 18, where they will face Top 5 teams Brazil, France and Italy.
Four Canadian players – Nicholas Hoag (20), Stephen Timothy Maar (20), Graham Vigrass (18) and Ryan Joseph Sclater (14) – stepped up in the absence of injured Sharone Vernon-Evans and delivered double-digit performances in their five-set win against Japan.
Canada started this VNL season with a defeat, before winning four in a row, then losing four in a row and now again winning three in succession – giving them good momentum against Italy.
“It’s the first time we won three matches in one weekend so I’m really satisfied,” Canada coach Glenn Hoag said. “We’re improving in certain aspects of our game. Although we’re maybe physically not all that fresh, we’re working on things that are going to benefit us in the future.”
The Italians, on the other hand, lost two in a row on week 4, including their match with Poland that went down to the wire and concluded with a heart-breaking 25-23 loss in the fifth set.
The European side are looking to end their losing run in the opening match in Brasilia against the North Americans, who are also relying on their edge in their last three major encounters at world level. They will play at 17:00 local time, followed by the match-up between Brazil and France at 20:00.
Meanwhile, Brazil could secure another place in the Final Round with a victory or a five-set defeat, or can make it to the next round should Italy or Poland lose their respective matches.
The Brazilians are relying on the performances of Yoandy Leal and Ricardo Lucarelli, who has been prolific from the attack line, while the Frenchmen await the entry of their top star Earvin Ngapeth and team-up on offence with Stephen Boyer to extend their winning streak at the VNL.
In other matches, Australia will play Russia after the match between China and Argentina in Brisbane, while hosts Bulgaria will meet USA after the encounter of Iran and Serbia in Plovdiv.
The Iranians who are currently in second place are focused on earning their first ever ticket to the VNL Finals. The Western Asian team are putting their trust in their chief playmaker Saeid Marouf, who has a great connection this season with Amir Ghafour. Marouf is the leading setter in the tournament with an average of 9.40 per set, while Ghafour is the leading scorer and spiker in the tournament with a total of 182 points and 57.30 per cent success rate in attacks.
“Iran have never played in the Final Six of the Volleyball Nations League, so it is really important for us to save our spot and to play in Chicago no matter how many wins we will get in Plovdiv,” Iran coach Igor Kolakovic said.
Poland and Japan will open the matches in Leipzig, followed by the match of hosts Germany and Portugal in Leipzig.
All VNL matches will be available live and on-demand on Volleyball TV
June 28 – full schedule: