Canada blanks host China at men's volleyball Olympic qualifier tournament

XI'AN, ChinaCanada scored a three-set win over China on Wednesday to improve to 3-1 at the men's volleyball Olympic qualification tournament.

Stephen Maar, of Aurora, Ont., paced the attack with 20 points as Canada blanked the host Chinese 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 26-24). Eric Leoppky, of Steinbach, Man., had 17 points, while Jordan Schnitzer, of Surrey, B.C., chipped in with 10.

Outside hitters Yuantai Yu (14 points) and Jingyin Zhang (12 points) led China (1-3) in scoring.

“China caused us a lot of problems in attack, and we were just a little better and that was the key," said Canada’s head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. "And we were able to close the sets, so good work from the team."

The victory moved Canada into second place in Pool C behind top-ranked Poland (4-0). Canada narrowly lost to Poland in a five-set decision on Tuesday.

“It was a very important win for qualification, and it was important for us to win 3-0,” said team captain and two-time Olympian Nick Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que. “The guys stayed really focused, despite being tired from the long and extensive match against Poland yesterday."

Only the top two countries from each of the tournament's three pools will advance to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Canada is scheduled to face Bulgaria (2-2) on Thursday.

"Our fate is in our own hands, but we have Bulgaria and Belgium who have been playing really well and those will be two very tough games," Hoag said.

The round-robin tournament continues until Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press