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Canada off to a good start at home with 3-1 win over Venezuela

Canada pleased the home crowd with a 3-1 win (25-17, 25-27, 25-15 and 25-22) as the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup got underway Monday at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, in Canada’s capital region.


Building on the historic bronze medal performance at the World League earlier this month, a younger squad is looking to improve from their third-place finish at the 2016 Pan Am, Canada’s first medal at this event in five years.


Supported by an enthusiastic crowd, the host national started out very strongly in the opening set, taking an 8-3 lead and extending it to 16-6 at the second timeout and 21-11. Venezuela did not lose hope and bounced back 17-23, before Danny Demyanenko and Ryan Sclater’s block sealed the partial victory 25-17.


The game stayed more evenly with Canada keeping a narrow lead 8-7 at the end of the first technical timeout, but the South American squad responded with a strong attack and solid defense to move in front 12-11 and stayed ahead 16-13. Edson Valencia contributed with an ace and a strong attack to keep his team’s hopes alive. Canada kept fighting and eventually tied the set at 22 and had a set point 24-23, but couldn’t capitalize from the service line. Venezuela found an extra gear as Emerson Rodriguez and José Verdi’s blocked the Canadian attack to even the match 27-25.


Venezuela, third at the continental event in 2015, kept the momentum going with an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout, but Schouten Casey’s lethal serve put Canada back in front 13-10. The host nation kept the advantage 16-13 at the second timeout. A solid serve and attack led them to prevail 25-15.


Determined to finish the match in four sets, Canada showed a solid attack and block to contain their South American rivals 8-6 at the first technical timeout. Ryan Sclater’s attack found spaces in their rivals’ defense to extend the lead to 16-12. Venezuela narrowed the deficit to 16-18 and then 20-22, but the Canadians’ height proved to be decisive in the attack and block to take the fourth and final set 25-22.


Casey Schouten and Ryan Sclater led the Canadian performance 16 with points each. Emerson Rodriguez, Edson Valencia and José Verdi each contributed 11 for Venezuela.


Larry McKay, head coach of Canada: “Nice performance; exciting to watch – good serving from our guys, and great for these young guys to get a taste of success like that.”


Max Burt, captain of Canada: “Obviously the first match of the tournament is always pretty difficult, so I’m pretty happy with the result here. It’s also our first game as a team this season, and that’s a pretty good Venezuelan team.  It’s a very positive start for our group and some of our guys haven’t played at this level before, so we’re satisfied with the result tonight. “


Ronald Sarty, Venezuela’s coach: "Considering the problems we face at home and how we got here, our team gave it all and you see on the court. Of course, we must improve our reception, a key element in the first part of the game and to keep the consistency in our play. We have to be patient in this new Olympic cycle and work individually with these players to improve as a team overall. We aim to advance to the next round here.”