One Langley man and another former TWU athlete helped bring home three victories for Canada in the Volleyball National league play in Argentina this weekend.
Daniel Jansen Vandoorn, a middle blocker (#11), and relative newcomer Ryan Sclater (#16 and an Trinity Western University alum and lauded volleyball star) were part of the winning team that played and defeated all three contenders this weekend – Italy, then Argentina, and today Iran.
Defeat over Iran, 3-1
Canada completed a sweep of weekend two of Volleyball Nations League with a 3-1 victory (25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21) over Iran on Sunday.
“It was a great weekend with three wins, which I didn’t expect,” said Canada’s coach Stephane Antiga.
“Our goal was to win two games, which was still very difficult, so of course I am extremely satisfied with three wins. We are playing well and smart, and we defend a lot. It’s not easy to win against teams like Iran, Italy and Argentina at home with their top players. I am very proud of the team.”
Sclater contributed 18 points to Canada’s effort; and Stephen Maar backed him up with 13 points.
As they did yesterday against host Argentina, Canada bounced back from a surprising collapse in the third set – at one point the Canadian team was up by seven points, only to let Iran take the set.
Amir Ghafour battled bravely for Iran, snapping off 15 spike winners plus four block kills.
But in the end, Canada had a full-team effort, with some key substitutions, including Steve Marshall and Nick Hoag – which helped the Canadian squad in the final stretch.
Canada now heads home with confidence as it hosts VNL next week, with the United States, Germany, and Australia visiting Ottawa from June 8 to 10.
In the meantime, Iran hopes to get its campaign back on track with a trip to Russia, where they will meet the host nation, China, and Brazil.
In play against Argentina
Canad beat the host team from San Juan, Argentina three games to one Saturday. Canada’s men’s team took a hard-fought 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 24-26, 25-23) win over Argentina.
Maar was Canada’s top contributor with 18 points – 16 points on offence and two blocks. Jason DeRocco scored 14 points.
Argentina’s star Facundo Conte couldn’t carry his team to a win despite his 23 points. Agustin Loser was an all-round threat and scored 15 for the home side.
Canada dominated early on, taking the first two sets. The third set was the most intense and included a confrontation between Maar and Conte at the 10-10 mark. This seemed to put the Argentine team and its fans back in the game.
The fourth set also turned out to be a thriller with Argentina clawing its way back from 23-19, to even the score. This time Canada didn’t falter, and put away its second win of the weekend (Canada beat Italy yesterday, and now has three wins and two losses in the VNL tournament so far.)
“Obviously getting two wins in a row is important for us,” said Canada’s captain TJ Sanders.
“It was a very difficult match. They are a great defensive team and they made us really work for it. We are satisfied with the win, but we are tired as well, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Argentina’s final chance to get a win out of their home stretch comes against Italy on Sunday; while Canada will seek to continue a successful weekend in an afternoon meeting with Iran.
Canada downed Italy Friday
Canada’s men’s volleyball team brought Italy’s winning start in Volleyball Nations League to a halt with a 3-1 victory (22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16) on Friday.
Graham Vigrass racked up 14 attacking points as the Canadians bounced back from losing the opening set to clinch its second win of the tournament (last weekend Canada beat Korea, but lost to Russia and host Poland. Italy had wins over Germany, Brazil and Serbia).
Maar joined Vigrass and offered a two-way threat, smashing down 11 winners while also chiming in with four crucial blocks. Maar was involved in what ultimately proved to be the turning point of the match, the final rally of the second set, that ended when captain TJ Sanders tipped the ball downwards for a winner and levelled the match at 1-1.
Canada continued to respond to Italy’s offence in the third set and took control in the fourth. Sclater contributed 11 points today for Canada.
Osmany Juantorena collected 14 total points for Italy, with Ivan Zaytsev blasting 15 in attack.
Canada had looked determined throughout the match despite a 2-15 historical record against Italy.
The Italians regrouped to try to take Iran Saturday in San Juan, while Canada faced hosts Argentina Saturday and Iran on Sunday.
“Argentina and Iran are both good teams, so they will be tough matches,” said Team Canada’s Graham Vigrass.
“We haven’t played either team much in the last couple of years, so video will be important. Winning tonight doesn’t change how we feel or prepare for the next two games. … The longer we are together, the more polished our game will get.”
Another BC player competes
Vandoorn and Sclater were joined by fellow B.C. players Steve Marshall of Abbotsford.
Canada hosts Volleyball Nations League in week three in Ottawa.