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2024 VNL Season

VNL: Arthur Szwarc leads Canada to upset victory over Japan

Canada continued its impressive run as the 2024 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League’s surprise package, defeating Japan in a marathon 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 25-20, 15-10 battle on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

With Japan breathing down its neck in the decider, Canada turned to its net defense to silence the opponents’ biggest guns.

It stopped Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa in succession to turn a slim 7-5 lead into a 10-6 cushion, which was enough for the North Americans to pull off the upset.

Opposite hitter Arthur Szwarc proved to be the thorn in Japan’s side, sending his squad to a 5-4 win-loss record – just one win behind Japan and Brazil, both carrying a 6-3 slate.

“We just stayed together and that’s a good thing. We didn’t panic; most teams would go their separate ways, but our team stayed together and, shall I say, we just played good volleyball,” the 29-year-old Vero Volley Monza spiker said of what worked for Canada in this stunner.

Szwarc finished with 15 points on 12 attacks, two blocks, and one ace.

2024-VNL-Manila-Canada-def-Japan-Stephen-Maar VNL: Arthur Szwarc leads Canada to upset victory over Japan 2024 VNL Season News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

(C) Volleyball World

Canada, which recently qualified for the Paris Olympics, jumped to a huge 11-6 advantage in the opening set with Szwarc excelling from both the service line and upfront.

The Japanese side, boosted by the largely partisan crowd, tried to mount a comeback with wing hitters Ran Takahashi and Yuji Nishida carrying them to within four at 19-23.

However, Canadian captain Nicholas Hoag finished the set with a 25-21 victory for his side.

With Takahashi at the service line in the second set, the world no. 3 squad moved to a comfortable 19-14 cushion, ending with a Taishi Onodera kill from the middle.

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That fueled captain Yuki Ishikawa to explode, and back-to-back errors from the Canadians after an Akihiro Yamauchi attack forced the equalizer at 25-20.

The next two sets saw Canada and Japan turn to their strengths to win the respective frames.

Back to their usual selves in the service line, Szwarc and Eric Loeppky paced the attack for the North Americans, eliminating the Asians’ chances in first-ball attack and in transition to pull off the 2-1 set advantage.

On the other hand, with reception on point in the fourth, setter Masahiro Sekita was able to utilize all his options and even score points from Kentaro Takahashi, who subbed in for Onodera.

Stephen Timothy Marr, an outside hitter, led the charge for Canada with 24 points on 22 spikes and two service aces,.

Meanwhile, Loeppky impressed in his VNL debut in Manila with 15 markers, 13 of them from attacks and two from blocks.

Canada will attempt to keep its run going when it takes on Germany (3-5) on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Ryujin Nippon saw Nishida and Ishikawa produce 19 points each. The former achieved 17 attacks and two aces, while the captain contributed 16 attacks, one block, and two aces.

Japan will try to bounce back against the Netherlands (3-6) on Friday at 7:00 PM.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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