Canada come up clutch in close win over Czech Republic

Manama, Bahrain, July 23, 2019 – Canada completed a five-set 3-2 (25-19, 20-25, 28-26, 15-25, 17-15) comeback win over the Czech Republic to claim their second victory in Pool G on Tuesday at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship.

With the match tied at 1-1, Canada worked their way to gain a two-point edge in the extended third set. In this set, Xander Kertzynski was at the forefront of the Canadian offence and had a showdown with the Czech Republic’s leading scorer Marek Sotola, who scored heavily, doubling his output in the first two sets. However, Canada somehow managed to close the set to gain a 2-1 set advantage.

In the fourth set, Sotola led the charge against the Canadians, allowing his team to gain a comfortable lead. The left-handed Czech opposite closed the action with a powerful swing, recording his 30th point and extending the match to a tiebreaker.

The fifth set was a see-saw battle including a series of deadlocks and lead changes ensued. Canada were able to contain Sotola, but Lukas Vasina and Jan Svoboda kept their side fighting until the end. At 15-all, two net violations by the Czech Republic gave away set and match 17-15 to Canada.

Sotola had a match-high 32 points for the Czech Republic, while Kertzynski finished with 19 points to lead the winning side. Both teams each had three other players scoring in double figures, but it was the Canadian defence that mattered as they outperformed their rivals in reception (57-51) and in digs (31-17).

“The Czech Republic are a good team,” Canada coach Joao Paulo Bravo said. “We battled for every single ball. In the end it was just the small details that decided the game.”

In the other Pool G match, Egypt finally broke into the win column with a 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-12) triumph over Puerto Rico. Youssef Hamdy Awad logged 20 attacks and four blocks to lead his team in scoring, while Sebastian Negron had 22 markers for Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Poland earned back-to-back wins in Pool H, following their 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-20) over Tunisia. Bartosz Firszt was on the first line of offence for Poland, delivering a total of 15 points, including 11 attacks, one block and three service aces, while Yassine Abdelhedi led Tunisia with 12 points. Poland had an overall good performance against the African side, as they outclassed them in attacks (40-28), blocks (7-4) and aces (6-2).

Cuba also clinched successive wins as they posted a straight-set 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-13) victory against Morocco. Carlos Yoandrys Charles Santana, who came in as a substitute in the first two sets, was the most productive player on the Cuban side with 12 points.

On Wednesday, Canada are aiming to sweep Pool G when they face Egypt at 11:30 local time. A win by Canada in three or four sets will give way for the Czech Republic to claim second place in the group. However, should Egypt turn things around and beat their opponents, the Czech Republic need to come up with a win against Puerto Rico at 14:00.

Poland and Cuba have already secured their spots in the classification places for 9th-12th with their respective two victories in the second round. These two sides will face each other at 17:00 to decide which team will be winner in Pool H, following the all-African clash between Tunisia and Morocco at 16:30.

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