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Dreamt debut of Canada in Mar del Plata Finals

Mar del Plata, Argentina, July 19, 2013 — If the FIVB World Finals 2013 in the resort city of Mar del Plata promised excitement, the second day results surprised more than one and depending on Friday’s results with Canada facing Brazil and the host team of Argentina, Italy all six finalist teams could finish with three points each winning their semi-final spots thanks to their set/points ratio.

Bulgaria and Russia already played their two matches ending with 1-1 record in very exciting matches that included some very tight tie-breakers.

First at 17.30 in the afternoon this Thursday, World No. 19 Canada pulled off the shock of the FIVB World League 2013 by beating Olympic champions and world No. 2 Russia for the first time ever in a five set thriller 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11) in their Pool E match on Thursday.

In three previous matches between the two countries, Russia had won them all - one in five sets under the old scoring system and two in straight sets at the 1999 World Cup and 2006 World Championships.

Canada now join Korea (2008) as the only team in the last 15 years to come back from two sets down to beat Russia in the World League and the Canadian victory throws Pool E open with Russia, who beat Brazil in five sets on Wednesday, missing out on confirming a spot in the semi finals.

Considering Russia’s pedigree and form, pre match predications had the two-time World League champions has strong favourites against a country making its World Bulgaria being overcome by Italy 1-3.

At 9.00 it was time for World No 3 Italy repeating their Olympic bronze medal match victory over Bulgaria, ranked 8th in the world, in their opening FIVB Volleyball World League Finals match winning 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-22, 26-24) in the Estadio Islas Mavinas on Thursday.

The match was expected to be a heavyweight battle between the two highest scorers in the Intercontinental Round Ivan Zaytsev, who had tallied 215 points for Italy, and Bulgaria’s Tsvetan Sokolov who had scored 209 and it proved exactly that. Zaytsev led Italy’s scoring with 19 points but Sokolov was a man on a mission, recording 27 which represented close to 30 percent of Bulgaria’s points.

Having topped their group in the Intercontinental Round, Italy continued in a similar vein in the first set. Immediately they were up 3-0 with Emanuele Birarelli at the service line. His serve out gave Bulgaria their first point and after Sokolov served out and Zaytsev spiked home to make it 5-1, it was left to Todor Skrimov to score Bulgaria’s first point at 5-2. That was enough of a lead for eight-time champions Italy.

Press Conferences:

Canada coach Glenn Hoag said there is still room for improvement despite his side claiming their first ever win over volleyball giants Russia during the World League Finals pool play on Thursday.

Canada coach Glenn Hoag: "I'm very happy [with the win], it's a big step for us to come here, our programme has evolved in the last six years and this is a great accomplishment, but this tournament is far from over, and it's going to be a big fight tomorrow against an excellent team again.

"I wasn't so happy with the way the guys played [at the start], we were overdoing things, I just wanted them to play the way we practise, the way we've been playing lately.

"The guys are confident about competing against any team, they're not scared of anybody, they have faith in the system we play with. Tonight wasn't a great example of that, we can do much better, but I was pretty pleased.

"We were all over the place in the first two sets. Russia is a great serving team and a very good attacking team so we needed to be very disciplined on our blocking and we were lacking discipline and we made errors early.

"I think they [Russia] might have been [confident] at 7-2 [in the 5th set]. I got mad at the guys because we were all over the place in that fifth set at the beginning. I said 'One pass, one set, everybody execute technically well,' and they did that, but maybe Russia were a little tired from yesterday."

Canada captain Frederic Winters: "I expected to be a little nervous and we were, but we lost two sets and I don't think anyone of our team felt that we were playing poorly"

"In the third and fourth sets they gave us opportunities, made more mistakes, they weren't serving as hard. Maybe they were tired from yesterday and the pressure was on them, they had to beat us, we didn't have to beat them. We just played great in the last three sets.

"Because of the stage of the World League Finals, this is one of the biggest. We beat Brazil last year at home but this is one of the biggest."

"You can't get into a match against Brazil with expectations, just go and play. If you expect to win or play well it's not going to go your way, you just have to play point by point."

Dragan Travica said Italy played some of the their best volleyabll of the season, but was very proud of the heart his Italy team showed to beat Bulgaria 3-1 on day two of the 2013 World League Finals.

"I think we played very well in the first set. This was one of the best [sets] we played this year in the World League."

"After that we didn't play so good, because Bulgaria played better, but I want to remember the third set when we were in a difficult moment and we played, not the best volleyball, but we played with very big hearts in the most difficult moment of the match. I am very proud of this because you cannot practice this in training.

It was the first time Italy had won their opening match in a World League Finals series since 2004.

"I didn't know this, but it's another reason to be happy. With this group [of players], in every tournament, our start was very bad, so today we grew up in this respect."

"I think that Argentina is a very dangerous team," he said about Italy's next opponents. "You can't predict how they can play. They have players with a lot of talent, and very young, so they can play the best volleyball in the world for one hour and they can play not so very good for half an hour. So we have to pay attention and do the simple things, and focus on our game."

"Tomorrow maybe Argentina have a lot of pressure because they must win to go to the semi-finals, but also they want to win in their country."

Statistics: RUS-CAN P2 - P3 | ITA-BUL P2 - P3

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