Lewis: "This game was about character"


Hiroshima, Japan, October 13, 2019 - Canada kept their nerve to a win a thrilling encounter with Italy 3-2 (19-25, 25-17, 15-25, 25-23, 18-16) at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup on Sunday, spurred to victory by captain Nicholas Hoag, who struck 21 points at Hiroshima Green Arena.

Canada coach Daniel Lewis: “Thank you to Italy for the kind words, and good luck for the last matches. As you can see it starts to take a toll on the players, and hopefully the rest of the tournament will be injury free for everybody. I don’t have the statistics today, so I’d just like to make one comment. Volleyball is in the blood of the Italians. They have shown us over the decades how to play volleyball at an extremely high level. We’ve learned a lot from them, so I thank them for that, and for these opportunities. This game today for our players was about character. We have five left sides right now and no libero, so we are managing the situation the best we can. Today two of our left sides had times where they weren’t performing necessarily at a high level, and they just needed a break. They came off and they went back in, and all I asked them for was basically a relentless pursuit to execute. That’s what we’re looking for right now. With our current collective we need gut checks, character checks, and we need to care about each other, rally round each other, and we proved today that when we do that, if we choose to do that and not look for excuses, if we choose to rally with each other then we can play and we can win. So that’s what we’ll try to do for the next two matches.”

On Sharone Vernon-Evans’ performance: “Vernon is an extraordinarily physical player, and he’s growing extremely fast. His opportunities to learn will be all the time, and we’re trying now to continually solve a problem where we need to accelerate him. So, basically, it doesn’t really matter if he’s playing well or not, we continue to work and offer opportunities for him to learn volleyball at a high level. He’s trying his best and he’s playing very well. Sometimes in this tournament it’s going to be difficult to give a performance every night, and that’s why we have other players out there to contribute to the wins. When he starts to find better rhythm in attack and continually learns to manipulate the ball at a very high intervention and search the deep parts of the court he will be unstoppable.”

Canada captain Nicholas Hoag: “It was two very young teams playing, both have highs and lows, and you could see that today, especially on our side. We had two let-downs in the first and the third sets, I think. We’re still trying to find that consistency, and we’re getting it from time to time and we can win the sets that we are consistent in. It was a battle today. I think we’re all getting tired, it’s a long tournament. We’re obviously very happy with the win, it’s very important for us to fight for everything and try and get some wins here.”

Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: “First of all I’d like to say congratulations to Canada for their win. This is a disappointing result, like the previous game. In the end we were missing something, I suppose. In the first and the second sets we kept our focus in reception, but little by little Canada came back and eventually surpassed us. Towards the end of the match Canada began to control the ball more, and that is why we lost.”

Italy captain Matteo Piano: “I’m not so able to make a good analysis at this moment, I have to be honest. In some moments I think it was a wonderful match, because at times we played so well and Canada slightly less than us, then Canada played so well and us slightly less so. I think the fourth and the fifth sets were really so important to the result of this match. I think maybe we made some mistakes, again in situations that are not so ‘normal’. In those not normal situations I think a strong team knows what they have to do. In the difficult moments when Canada applied pressure I think we could have done something better in the fifth set. They played better than us, I think, in the last part of the match, and we lost 3-2.”