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Head coach Shannon Winzer wanted Canada's women's volleyball team to play free and have fun during Sunday's match against Russia.
But mustering a smile — while there were a few — probably proved as challenging as receiving a Russian serve for the Canadians, who were swept 25-15, 25-12, 25-14 in 90 minutes and handed a second straight loss in Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy.
Russia, which improved its record to 7-4, dominated from the service line with 10 aces to Canada's pair and took advantage of 19 unforced errors by its opponent.
The Canadians have lost two straight and are 12th among 16 teams at 3-8. They will face South Korea (1-9) on Monday at 12 p.m. ET in a match live streamed at CBCSports.ca.
Winzer elected to rest many of her starting players for Sunday's 11th contest of the preliminary round, with opposite hitter Kiera van Ryk and middle blocker Emily Maglio not even suiting up.
Arina Fedorovtseva led all players with 16 points, including 13 kills, while opposite hitter Shainah Joseph topped Canada with 10.
WATCH | Canada swept for 4th time in Volleyball Nations League:
Russia quickly made it 5-0 in the final set, prompting Winzer to call a timeout as her players did not look confident on the court.
"Change your body language," she told them. "We can control these things."
Service reception struggles
Joseph responded with a kill, but Russia took eight of the next 10 points for a 13-3 advantage. The Canadians, though, didn't give up, closing to within nine at 22-13 but blocks by Irina Koroleva and Irina Fetisova ended the match.
In the second set, Canada trailed 5-1 and 8-5 and struggled with service reception.
"We can do better than this," Winzer could be heard saying during a timeout.
"We're right in this," she added during a technical timeout with Canada down 8-5. "We can step up the communication a lot. One person needs to start it."
Koroleva unleashed an ace clocked at 65 kilometres per hour to make it 10-5.
Russia increased the margin to seven at 19-12 and made it 22-12 after some miscommunication between Canadian middle blocker Layne van Buskirk and setter Kim Robitaille.
The 15-match preliminary round ends June 23 with the top four countries advancing to the semifinals.