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Canada sweeps bronze-medal game against Guatemala at U21 men's championship


GATINEAU, Canada, July 10, 2016 – Canada nabbed the bronze medal by defeating Guatemala 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-19) at the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship on Sunday.


Sharone Vernon-Evans had a match-high 13 points (including an efficient 12 kills from 21 attacks) to help Canada, whose world championship qualification hopes were dashed by their semi-final loss to Team USA on Saturday, win in front of an appreciate host nation crowd at Centre Sportif de Gatineau.


Canada also received 12 points from Taryq Sani and nine from captain Matthew Mawdsley. Guatemala's top shots were Carlos Lopez with eight points (seven kills from 16 attacks) and captain Erik Flores with seven (all kills, from 18 attacks).


“This is a huge stage for all of us – not a lot of us have been to this level,” the 17-year-old Vernon-Evans said. “It's a big tournament, playing the Cubans and Americans. We had hoped to qualify [for the 2017 FIVB world U21 championship] but this is not the end. We'll do better next year. Next year is going to be better for sure. Once you've been there, the nerves are out.”


Canada converted 40 of 69 attacks and Guatemala put down 24 of 63.

Canada held out middle blocker Pearson Eshenko and setter C.J. Gavlas subbed in late, which was a precaution measure against aggravating injuries each had sustained earlier in the tourney. Derek Epp stepped into Gavlas' role.


“I think our players now know what the international level is about,” Canada coach Gino Brousseau said. “They got to play the U.S. and Cuba. We told our players that this is just the beginning ...[Saturday] night was a tough loss. I am pleased our players put away our performance and kept going forward. Today they managed well.


“Our setter [Gavlas], his body was pretty banged up – same for our number 10, Pearson [Eshenko],” Brousseau said in reference to the lineup changes. “I didn't want to push them again. They gave so much, since the beginning. I have so much respect for those players. They have to play their season [in Canadian Interuniversity Sport].”


Save for wishing they could have made Canada sweat out the first two sets, Guatemala left the court with no regrets. By making the last four, they got in nine sets against Cuba and Canada, both significantly taller teams.


“In the first and second set, our energy was very low, and this is shown in the result,” Flores said .”In the third set, we were more motivated and we finished the game in a better way. We need to concentrate more for a better result, and we could have done better. We achieved a good place in fourth in the tournament.”


Guatemala's purpose for coming was to tune up for the upcoming Central America U23 championship, which is set for July 23-Aug. 1 in Panama.


“We would like to congratulate Team Canada because they played well,” Guatemala coach Reider Lucas said. “We are going to get better from this experience. We have come to a high level tournament and we know our level. We can improve our play.”


Barbados finished fifth in the tournament, with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados finishing sixth and seventh.