Canada closes out volleyball worlds with win over Bulgaria
Canada battled by the host nation Bulgaria 3-2 (25-19, 25-14, 21-25, 19-25, 15-10) in their final match of the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Canada wins in five!!! <a href="https://t.co/bma9IjSb12">pic.twitter.com/bma9IjSb12</a>—@VBallCanada
Canada took second its pool behind the U.S. and ahead of Bulgaria and Iran, who finished third and fourth respectively. Only the top team, and next two best runner-ups over the four pools advanced to the final six.
Canada tied Belgium to finish seventh overall out of 24 teams.
In today's matchup, Canada was well on its way to a sweep after taking the first two sets. But Bulgaria rode the momentum of the crowd to force a fifth set, where their comeback would fall short.
Bulgarian Nikolay Uchikov led all scorers with 20 points. Gordon Perrin led the Canadians with 18 points, followed by Nick Hoag (15), and Lucas Van Berkel (13).
"We knew it would be a fun game and a great atmosphere. As we saw tonight, it was fantastic," Perrin said. "I'm happy Bulgaria was able to play well in the end because it made for a better match for everybody."
Plenty of work for Canada
Overall, Canada had five wins and three losses in two rounds of play.
"We lost against three teams who were favourites to win the tournament [Brazil, France and U.S.], " said Canada's head coach, Stephane Antiga. "We won against some good teams - Iran, the host team Bulgaria, and we stayed close with Brazil and France despite losing. That's satisfying. But we wanted more because we know that we can win against the big teams and we did it during Nations League ... We still have some work to do to be consistent at the highest level."
Antiga was impressed by the whole team's effort, including setter Jay Blankenau, who stepped in for the injured T.J. Sanders.
"I will always say I want to play better, but the team played well around me," said Blankenau, "The team's performance was good – our left sides were amazing and our middles were blocking like crazy. Everyone had energy for the long tournament, which is difficult because sometimes your hopes are fading. But we pushed through to the end and we were rewarded with the win."