Nick Hoag and teammates celebrate victory against Cuba
Vancouver, Canada, January 11, 2020 - The Canadian Men rallied from dropping the first two sets to defeat Cuba 3-2 (22-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-21, 15-9) at the NORCECA Men's Tokyo Qualification Tournament in Vancouver. Canada is now 2-0 in the tournament while Cuba dropped to 1-1.
Cuba coach Nicolas Ernesto Vives Coffigny said how difficult it had been for his team to adapt to Canada's game. "Canada is a great team with great skill. We’re young and developing. We’re going to improve next for next time. Canada’s serving was exceptional after the first two sets and they really mixed up their game plan. We didn’t adjust to their game and that cost us."
For Canada's Nick Hoag, on the other hand, it was all about staying focused. "There’s no words for this game," he said. "Cuba played really well the first two sets. The crowd gave us some extra energy. We focused in on our game plan because there was some specific things we had to do and we executed it really well. We had to stay aggressive and we got the win in the end. Our serving made a big difference. They weren’t able to run the middle so much. They’re really physical in the middle. We did ramp up the serving and put a lot of pressure on them."
Hoag also underlined how the crowd's support was crucial. "The crowd helped us so much. It was a crucial part of our win. Mentally, it’s hard to fight after being down two sets to zero. It’s one of the best crowds I’ve had in Canada."
Now Canada focus on their next and last match in the tournament. "It’s mixed feelings because we have one more match to go," said Hoag. "We’re not done. We don’t have our ticket to Tokyo. Puerto Rico is playing well, they beat Mexico in straight sets. We’re going to go stretch, eat, get some rest and be ready for tomorrow."
For Canada coach Glenn Hoag, it was about playing smarter. "We were controlling the match from a defensive perspective. Our offense was struggling and scoring – they were playing well. We started playing a little smarter after the first two sets. We played a lot of short balls because Cuba has a lot of good blockers. Our serving was really good and we started mixing up our attack. It was a team effort. It’s been two weeks of 16 guys and we can see the results now.