MARR THE MAN FOR CANADIANS
Ottawa, Canada, June 8, 2018 – Stephen Marr was Canada’s hero as Australia were seen off 3-0 (25-19 26-24 25-19) to keep alive their VNL glory push.
This win for Stephane Antiga’s men – their fifth from the first seven games – was throughly deserved even if the battling Aussies kept believing right until the bitter end.
And it was wing spiker Marr, who plays his club volleyball in Italy, who was the star performer and remains Canada’s top scorer.
He weighed in with 18 points (16 spikes and two blocks) while Jason Derocco was the other main man with 15 spikes, a block and an ace as they soared to fourth in the table and into the mix for a place in the finals.
“It was great to win in front of the home crowd, “smiled libero Blair Bann. “We just need to keep going in the same atmosphere with the same effort.”
For Australia, however, this was another hard night at the office.
A record of just one win from seven sees Mark Lebedew’s side languishing near the bottom of the standings though no-one can deny the heart and effort on show in front of a partisan Canadian crowd.
Carroll , who finished with a creditable 15 points while Paul Sanderson (10 points ) and Nehemiah Mote ( nine points) all contributed although with the USA , hurting after being stung by Germany in the evening’s first match, next up on Saturday, things aren’t going to get any easier.
There was a brilliant atmosphere at TD place – the fans were making some tremendous noise and even the visiting players were dancing in between points. At 16-15 up in the first set, the Aussies deserved to enjoy the moment.
But thanks to the power of Marr and Derocco, any hope soon evaporated. The deadly Canadian duo compiled nine points between them as the first set was pocketed by Antiga’s side.
Tensions began to boil over at the start of the second with Lebedew blowing his top with referee Luis Gerardo Macias after a point which was initially given to his side before being rescinded, much to the anger of the Australians who were gradually losing their foothold in the match.
Sanderson and Carroll – who at that point had bagged eight points each – were fighting terrifically hard but after another lead disappeared, it was left to a quite brilliant piece of attacking and defensive play by the Canadians which turned the tide once and for all.
Graham Vigrass produced one of the saves of the VNL so far before a block from Marr brought the house down as the Maple Leafs leveled for 21-21, a platform from which they powered on and doubled the lead which was delayed by a Max Staples ace before the inevitable was confirmed.
The third was equally competitive and encouraging for the Australians with the excellent Carroll bravely carrying the fight yet it wasn’t enough to douse home flames as they celebrated a fourth win on the spin.
On this evidence , Sunday’s showdown with the USA in the North American derby should be a rip roaring affair.
Canada coach Stephane Antiga: “I thought we played pretty well. We needed to play well tonight. It seems easy because we won 3-0 but we played nice volleyball, we served and spiked really well. In the third set we played very well so I’m very happy with that. We didn’t waste a lot of energy because we played only three sets and some guys like Gavin Schmitt and Arthur Szwarc both played a little bit. There were many fans, which makes us happy.”
Canada captain Tyler Sanders: “I think we’re all super excited to be home and you could see we were a little bit antsy at the beginning of the game. It’s good to be back in front of a home crowd and we want to play well. It’s cool to show them some good volleyball and obviously we’re really happy that we came home and got the 3-0 victory. We’ll do our normal preparation for the next two games, but our goal right now is to win every game. I think we’re playing at a high level right now and I think we’re going to have opportunities to win those games, it just matters how we play at the end of the day.”
Canada player Gavin Schmitt: “It’s good to be back with the guys, obviously in a smaller role. The guys are playing really good and my goal was just to help out in any way I can and I was able to bring a little bit of energy in a tight second set. Overall I think we played pretty well. Australia had a really good second set. They were making us play really hard and we’re digging a lot of balls so we had to escape from that, but once we did, we got rolling in the third and we were able to get the win. For me the crowd always helps. When you’re at home and you have fans cheering for you, it’s one of the greatest feelings ever and it gives you more energy.”
Australia coach Mark Lebedew: “We certainly had good opportunities in the first and second with leads, but we just didn’t take our chances. They were feeling more pressure than what was actually there. Canada was really efficient in siding-out from medium situations.
“Sometimes it felt like we needed to play better than perfect, otherwise we have no chance. For the upcoming games we will just have to trust that we are able to make the plays.”
Australia captain Paul Carroll: “This wasn’t the plan we had for this evening. In the first and second set we had the lead early, then Canada played well and made great plays in the end. Third set they served well, then that was it. If we changed one or two things in the first couple sets it would have been a different result. I give credit to Canada. We’re just going to keep playing our game, adjusting little things and scout out USA and Germany and leave it all out there.”
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