By Toby White
The Canadian men’s volleyball team caused a meltdown in the Ukrainian squad on Sat., Aug. 23. Following a rough loss to the Americans on Friday, Dinos volleyball coach Greg Ryan took the Canadians to a 3-1 victory over the Ukraine and a tie for first place in their pool at the Summer Universiade in Daegu.
The team, including University of Calgary player Sean Kendal took to the floor at the Yeungnam College Gymnasium Saturday evening in front of a small but boisterous crowd of Canadian fans and young Korean boosters.
The Canadians came out of the gates roaring, gaining a quick 5-0 lead. The Canucks continued to dominate the hard-hitting set with Laval’s Carl Lalancette scoring deadly kills with the help of captain Mike Munday’s superb setups. Munday showed tremendous leadership on the floor. A couple of bad serves and an alleged rotation error allowed the Ukrainians some respite, but Canada easily took the set 25-19.
Munday, from the University of Manitoba, was pleased with how well the team gelled on the floor, despite being together for such a short time.
“We’re bonding better than any team I’ve been a part of,” Munday told the Gauntlet. “We had a few days to train while teams like the Americans have been together all summer”
The Canadians came out strong once again in the second set, gaining a 10-5 lead. They started to slack however, and several net errors cost them some points, giving the Ukraine some momentum. Several bad net calls by the referee left the score at 26-26. The Canadians turned on the juice to win the set 28-26 however.
Canada dropped the ball in the third set, quickly falling behind the Ukraine team. Wary from unwarranted net calls the men were too tentative and had trouble closing the block. They came close to a comeback, bringing the score to 22-23. A bad serve followed by a bad block handed the set to the Ukrainians 25-22, however.
The Canadians pulled it together for the fourth set. Sweet blocks by Munday and his Manitoban teammate Peter Turpin sent the Canadians into a comfortable lead. Despite more confrontations with the ref over net calls the Canadians easily took the set 25-16.
Munday was not bothered by his frequent confrontations with the referees.
“That’s how it goes in international competitions,” said Munday. “The refs have been [told] to follow certain standards. It’s usual.”
Next up for the Canadians is a match against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) on Sunday.
Coach Ryan has great faith in his team and their chances in the tournament.
“We blocked and passed very well today,” said Ryan. “We can still play better. This is a very skilled team and they just have to stop thinking and just trust their abilities.”
Munday echoed Ryan’s comments, adding that it is a great opportunity to play under the Dino’s coach.
“It’s great, the coach has a higher level team to deal with,” said Munday. “He gives us freedom to play our game.”