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Serbia rallies to knock off Canada 3-1 in men's Volleyball Nations League

OTTAWA — Canada got off to a promising start with a first-set victory, but Serbia rallied to beat their Volleyball Nations League rival 3-1 in a best-of-five match on Sunday at TD Place.

OTTAWA — Canada got off to a promising start with a first-set victory, but Serbia rallied to beat their Volleyball Nations League rival 3-1 in a best-of-five match on Sunday at TD Place.

The Canadian men, who wrapped up the second week of VNL action with a 2-2 record, opened Sunday with a 25-21 win, but Serbia stormed back with three straight wins 25-20, 25-18 and 25-23 to take the match.

Serbia led in attacks (56-54) and service aces (11-2). Canada led in blocks (8-7) and both teams committed 22 errors.

“We just couldn’t stop their attack,” said Canada’s head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. “Our block defence was especially bad when the ball was out of system. We couldn’t block and defend in those situations.

" … We had opportunities, but we didn’t convert, and the result is there. We will focus on getting better and being more efficient in attack and defence.”

Outside hitter Stephen Maar and spiker Arthur Szwarc led Canada with 16 points apiece, while spiker Drazen Luburic led Serbia with 22 points and Miran Kujundzic had 19.

Canada, which has qualified for the Paris Olympics, beat Cuba on Tuesday and the United States on Saturday — both by 3-1 decisions — and lost 3-1 to Argentina on Thursday.

Serbia is still trying to qualify for the Paris Olympics via world rankings.

"We’ve improved since last year; I think the work shows — we are able to compete with the top teams and win against top teams. Going forward into the final week in the Philippines, we’ll be looking to make the last few wins and continue improving and hoping to make top eight (in VNL),” said Canadian libero Justin Lui.

“We gained a lot of confidence from qualifying for the Olympics and knowing we can win under pressure.”

The next week of men’s play for Canada is in Manila, Philippines, beginning June 18.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2024.

The Canadian Press