VNL 2024: Canada sweeps Manila leg but coach wants more

VNL 2024: Canada sweeps Manila leg but coach wants more

/ 07:05 PM June 22, 2024

Stephen Maar Canada VNL

Stephen Maar and Canada celebrate a point against Netherlands in the VNL.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Canada may have swept four matches in the Manila Leg to book a spot in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Final Eight but it wasn’t perfect for coach Tuomas Sammelvuo as he urges his wards to stay hungry.

Canada turned to Stephen Maar and Eric Loeppky to seal a spot in the Final Eight after overcoming the Netherlands in five sets, 21-25, 25-22, 28-26, 14-25, 15-9, on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

But coach Sammelvuo said they won’t stop working on their lapses, which were still exploited by the Netherlands, led by the league’s top scorer Nimir Abdel-Aziz.

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READ: VNL 2024: As Paris Olympics nears, Canada focused on improvement

“It’s never perfect but of course four wins, huge performance from the players. I’m very happy for them and we qualified for the Final Eight. That’s amazing,” said the Finnish coach of Canada. “I think we got confidence after a few wins and now we finished the end part of VNL with eight wins. That’s very very good. Now we focus on the Final Eight, we’ll keep on practicing and get ready for the quarterfinals.”

Maar powered the Canadians with 18 points off 15 attacks, two blocks, and an ace. Loeppky delivered the goods anew with 14 points, while Xander Ketrzynski and Lucas Van Berkel added nine points each. 

“Fourth game in five days, five-setter, crazy environment, we wanted that win so bad and so did they. They wanted to win for him and we wanted to win for us. It went to be a really tough match mentally and also physically,” said Loeppky. “I think we needed this game. We really needed to be put in a tough situation to be able to come together and win as a team I think that’s huge for us. This one was tough, so it’s really important for us moving forward because all we have left is the Final Eight and the Olympics so all those games are going to be like this.”

READ: VNL 2024: Canada sweeps Germany for back-to-back wins

Sammelvuo was happy for his players’ improvement after finishing the preliminary round as the No.4 seed with an 8-4 record as they will also play in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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“We have improved I think we’re qualified in the Olympic games and last October was a big step for us in terms of confidence. After that many players had a very good season in their clubs and we have been working, being humble and trying to improve. We’ll never stop,” said the Canada coach, who is also eyeing to return in Manila for the FIVB World Championship next year. 

“Amazing. Good crowd. Next year, the world championship is here. So I hope we’ll come back here,” he added.

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 The Netherlands ended up winless in Manila with a 3-9 record despite another 37-point explosion from Abdel-Aziz highlighted by six aces. Maarten Van Garderen had 17 points.

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TAGS: Canada, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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