Canada powers past Japan in World League series opener

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Canada defeated Japan in four sets (25-11, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20) on the first day of their FIVB World League two-match series at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

Canada rode its power game to victory, with its attackers pounding spikes relentlessly and its blockers playing strongly at the net in the victory.

John Gordon Perrin was the top scorer for Canada with 18 points. Dallas Soonias added 15 in the win.

Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Yusuke Ishijima paced Japan with 14 points apiece.

Canada entered Saturday’s match still having a mathematical chance at advancing to the finals in Mar del Plata, Argentina, later this month. The Canadians (7-2) are currently second in Group C with 21 points, one behind leader the Netherlands. Canada has won five straight matches, including sweeps of South Korea and Finland the past two weeks.

Japan is 3-6 following the defeat and ahead of only South Korea at the bottom of the group.

Only one team from Group C advances. The Netherlands is scheduled to take on Finland again later Saturday.

The 24th FIVB World League, which offers $5.7 million in prize money, features 18 teams split into three pools of six that compete in a five-round, 10-match format.

The top two teams from Group A and B advance to the six-team finals, along with host Argentina.

“We started fairly well,” said Canada coach Glenn Hoag. “Japan struggled in the beginning. They adjusted well and it was a real battle until the end.”

Hoag cited his team’s block defense as a key to the victory.

“We blocked well throughout the match, but did make some mistakes in the third set,” he noted.

“I’m disappointed we came up short,” stated Japan coach Gary Sato. “The Canadian team played well and we didn’t play up to our potential.”

Sato said Canada deserved credit for its performance on this day.

“They played inspired volleyball and put a lot of pressure on us from the service line and blocked well,” he commented.

Canada jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set and Japan took a timeout.

The Canadians kept the pressure on, boosting their lead to 8-0 at the first technical timeout.

Japan got on the board with two quick points after the timeout to make it 8-2.

Canada passed well and displayed good blocking defense in moving out to a 12-5 advantage.

The margin was 16-6 for Canada at the second TTO.

A spike by Soonias gave Canada set point and they took it 25-11 on a reception error by Yu Koshikawa.

Perrin and Soonias had six points apiece in the set.

Japan came out stronger in the second set, and the tally was even at 6-6 early on. Canada led 8-6 at the first TTO.

A spike by Ishijima pulled Japan within 13-12 and they evened the score 13-13 on a return error by Canada.

Japan moved ahead 15-14 on a spike by Fukuzawa and led 16-15 at the second TTO.

A nice dink by Fukuzawa made it 18-18.

A Perrin spike gave Canada a 21-19 lead.

Canada took the second set 25-21 on a nice block.

“We played well in the first two sets, but we knew they were going to play better,” said Perrin. “We are happy with the win and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Japan moved out to an 8-4 lead at the first TTO in the third set via good teamwork and capitalizing on some errors by their opponents.

Trailing 9-4, Canada took a timeout to try and regroup.

Japan was up 16-12 at the second TTO after Canada sailed a serve long.

A spike by Ishijima gave Japan a 20-16 margin.

Canada drew within 21-19 and Japan took a timeout.

A block by Koshikawa moved Japan within two points of the set at 23-19.

Justin Duff soared for a spike and Canada edged closer at 23-22.

Fukuzawa’s spike made it 24-22 and Japan claimed the set 25-23 on another spike by the star.

The fourth set was tight from the outset with Canada taking an 8-7 lead into the first TTO.

A Fukuzawa spike moved Japan in front 11-10.

Canada pulled ahead and was on top 16-14 at the second TTO.

Japan tied it at 16-16 but gave back the lead on a service error by Koshikawa.

A nice block by Perrin put Canada within sight of the match at 22-19 and Japan called a timeout.

Canada closed it out 25-20 on a return error by Japan.

“We could not cope with their height,” said Fukuzawa. “We fell into their pace and they gained many block points.”

Fukuzawa said Japan got back in the match but could not sustain the surge.

“We came back in the third set, but made some mistakes in the fourth and they took the momentum back,” he said.