Canada closed its 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Nations League with a four-set triumph against China, with scores of 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-18 on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Canadians ended with a 3-9 win-loss record and retained their spot in the VNL, while China finished at 2-10.
China is in danger of relegation pending the result of the games of Iran, Bulgaria, and Cuba over at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Stephen Maar led Canada with 14 attack points and six huge blocks against China.
“Obviously, it’s a huge win for us to stay in the VNL. And for the team to win this game, put everything on the line, and save ourselves, was very intense and emotional. I’m so happy with how we performed through these emotions,” said the 28-year-old veteran, speaking about the squad’s resolve in the match.
With their places in next year’s tournament on the line, Canada and China battled for control until the former took a 23-22 advantage. The Asians then scored three straight points off a timeout to snag the set advantage.
That turned out to be China’s last hurrah, as the North Americans completed a sweep of the next three sets.
Canada utilized its height advantage to its fullest, especially against China’s wing spikers. The latter thus resorted to its middle and combination plays to score points with Li Yaozhen and Zhang Jingyin.
Maar and Danny Demyanenko collaborated to form a great wall against the Chinese attack, eventually completing the sweep.
Ryan Sclater recorded 20 kills in the match for Canada, while Demyanenko contributed 12 points with eight attacks, two blocks, and two service aces.
Zhang led China’s stand with a game-high 25 points on 24 spikes, along with a service ace. Meanwhile, Li was the only other Chinese player in double digits with 10 points.