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Canada returned from a three-day break in women's Volleyball Nations League to post a 3-1 sets victory over Serbia and end a three-match skid on Saturday.
It was fitting opposite hitter Kiera van Ryk delivered the winning point for the Canadians as she topped both teams with 21 in Rimini, Italy. Hilary Howe added 17 points and also came up big late in the fourth and final set.
"We're in full control," head coach Shannon Winzer told her players during a timeout with Canada leading 19-13. "Let's get after that pot of gold."
The Canadians came out of the timeout and scored six of 11 points for a 25-18 victory to improve their record to 3-7, putting them 12th among 16 teams. Serbia is 10th with a 6-4 mark. A 15-match preliminary round ends June 23 with the top four countries advancing to the semifinals.
WATCH | Canada racks up 8 aces in win over Serbia:
Canada prevailed 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 in the other sets and faces sixth-place Russia (6-4) on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET, a match CBCSports.ca will live stream.
"Winning is so much fun," Canada setter Brie King told Volleyball World. "We came out of the last three days of competition and knew this [fourth] round was going to test us.
"We wanted to … play free and I think we did it tonight. Serbia is an awesome team and pushed us [but] we were all together and you could feel it in the way we played."
Despite amassing 22 errors to Serbia's 18 over four sets, the Canadians picked up 59 points on the attack and held a 12-9 edge on blocks.
We were not shying away from the big moments but taking big swings [that] gave us confidence to win. — Canada setter Brie King
After a morale-boosting third-set victory, they took charge early in the final set. Jennifer Cross and Howe teamed for a block to extend the lead to 8-5, a Howe kill made it 10-5 and it was 13-7 after she delivered one of her team's eight aces on the day.
In the third set, Canada led 5-2 with a strong service run but its opponent held strong and evened matters 10-10. The Canadians scored four straight points and eight of 11, culminating with an ace by outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic.
"We were not shying away from the big moments," King said, "but taking big swings [that] gave us confidence to win."
With Canada ahead 21-17, rookie outside hitter Carolina Livingston entered the game and her aggressive serve led to a van Ryk kill before a Maglio kill ended the match.
Van Ryk started Saturday's contest with her 11th ace of the tournament to put Canada ahead 3-2 in the opening set. Her kill opened a three-set advantage at 8-5 entering a technical timeout.
An Emily Maglio block combined with aggressive serving, a Serbian net touch and Cross block opened up a 18-13 lead. Up 23-19, Canada closed the match with a van Ryk tip and Howe point.
Maglio led the team with seven points in the set and added two blocks to give the Cranbrook, B.C., native 20 for the tourney.
Canada kept within reach of the lead in the first half of the second set, trailed 16-12 and battled back to make it a one-point deficit at 20-19. But the Canadians struggled with serve and pass and consecutive aces by Sara Lozo made it 23-19 and put the set out of reach.
"I would like to congratulate Canada," Lozo said. "They played really well and very quick [on the attack]. They pushed the ball in between our block, and we didn't find the right answer."