TORONTO (May 19, 2012) – Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon scored 33 points including seven in the fifth and deciding set as Canada posted a huge upset victory over world number-one Brazil on Saturday in the World League men’s volleyball play.
The final score was 25-23, 20-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-10 in a thrilling match played before a sellout crowd of 8,100 excited fans at the Ricoh Coliseum and a national TV audience in Canada.
‘’That’s the best Canadian volleyball crowd I’ve ever seen,’’ said Canada’s captain Fred Winters of Victoria. ‘’In my nine years on the national team I had never beaten Brazil’s A team. I was getting sick of losing to them.’’
Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., added 21 points for the victors and Winters chipped in 12 while setter Josh Howatson of Victoria excelled drawing up Canada’s attacks. For Brazil, Wallace de Souza was the top attacker with 17 and Amaral Dante added 12. Brazil drops to 0-2 in World League play, both losses in five sets, and Canada is now 2-0.
‘’I’m happy with the win but I’m even more happy with how the guys played,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que. ‘’Brazil is a team that I study all the time and to beat them is really an honour. The World League is a big opportunity for us to play big matches and this experience will pay off.’’
In set one, the Canadians capitalized on five attack errors by the Brazilians to grab an 8-2 lead at the first technical timeout. Amaral Dante served for four straight points including two aces to bring Brazil back in the match. The Canadians responded on a five point run of their own, highlighted by two kills and a block by Winters, to grab a 19-12 lead. It was too much for the Brazilians to make up.
The Brazilians made sure to not fall behind in the second set and led pretty much from start to finish. For the second set in the row, Wallace and Dante each scored five points and the Brazilians were less sloppy with only two unforced errors compared to 10 in the first set.
Canada bounced back with a brilliant third set marked by two impressive scoring runs. Winters and Schmitt combined for kills to put Canada from 5-6 to 10-7. Then late in the set two blocks by Steve Brinkman, a veteran of 200 plus international matches, put Canada up 21-17. Wallace had another productive set for Brazil with six more points.
In the fourth set, two consecutive blocking points by Brinkman tied the match at 18-18 and after Brazil was up 24-22, a Perrin kill and a Brazil attack error sent the match to extra points. Rodrigo scored a big kill to put Brazil ahead and a smash by Perrin went wide right to send the match to a decisive set.
In the fifth set, Schmitt went on a rampage scoring Canada’s first five points to put the home team in front 5-3 then scored two consecutive kills near the end to all but seal the win.
‘’ It was a great performance for Canada and well deserved for all the hard work they’ve put in,’’ said Brazil’s legendary head coach Bernardo Rezende. ‘’I actually feel glad for Glenn. I really admire him a lot for the job he is doing.’’
It’s been a remarkable start to the 2012 season for Canada. They have also beaten world number-five Cuba this year and are 6-1 overall.
Now in its 23rd year, the World League is a 16-country intercontinental tournament that takes place every summer, reaching all corners of the planet, offering worldwide TV coverage and the biggest cash prizes in the sport.
Canada is in a tough pool with world number-one Brazil, number-four Poland – both countries are Olympic bound – and Finland which stands at number-27. Canada is at number-18.
Canada faces world number-four Poland on Sunday at 8 p.m. preceded by Brazil- Finland at 4 p.m.