Canada didn’t make it into the final four in the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) Volleyball World League series but the team did beat Russia, the eventual champions, before losing to Brazil to end a great run.
Winner of the C pool, Canada drew into a grouping with Russia and Brazil, teams that would emerge as finalists in games played in Argentina.
Russia had won the only three previous matches against Canada and the reigning Olympic gold medalists were heavily favoured to roll over the team ranked No. 18 in the world when World League games started last month.
The July 19 match started off according to prediction, with Russia winning the first two games, 25-20 and 25-21. Canada then roared back, sweeping the next three games, 25-23, 25-21 and 15-11.
In making the dramatic comeback, Canada joins Korea as the only team in the last 15 years to win a World League match after being down two sets. Creston’s Gord Perrin led all players with 20 points.
Canada exited the competition with a 3-0 loss to Brazil, but would end up with a best-ever fifth-place finish in the 2013 World League. Russia swept Brazil in three games to win the 2013 championship.
“We showed we can play on the big stage in the world and beat great teams in the future,” Canada’s Gavin Schmitt said in a press conference.
Perrin, interviewed on CBC Radio shortly after his team’s historic win over Russia, was one of Canada’s top performers throughout the international league season. The 23-year-old now returns to Turkey for the winter, where he plays professionally.
As a result of Canada’s strong showing, the team has moved up seven places in world rankings and is now rated as the 11th best men’s volleyball team on the planet.