The Canadian women’s volleyball team notched its second win in as many days Saturday and clinched a spot in the quarter-final round, defeating Thailand 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-16) at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade on Saturday at Palatedeschi in Benevento, Italy.
After defeating Mexico 3-0 in their opening match yesterday, the Canadians overcame late deficits in the first two sets before handily winning the third to guarantee a top-two finish in Group A action.
“It’s unbelievable. The competition is just so high here,” said Canadian head coach Laurie Eisler when asked about their quarter-final berth. “To be classified in the top eight is a great honour and now we just have to keep rising to the challenges. We know that every match is just going to get harder and harder.”
University of Alberta standout Kory White led all players with 16 points off 13 kills and three blocks and Eisler credits her and setter Mariah Walsh’s play in crucial moments.
“Mariah did a really nice job getting Kory engaged and feeding her. Sometimes when a player is hot and the matchup is good for us one-on-one - the angles that Kory is hitting at are hard to defend. So Mariah found her and Kory finished. It was nice to see for sure.”
“I felt solid and really confident out there,” said White. “It was kind of the first game that I felt comfortable with who I was and I was able to just play. It was a lot of what my team did to help me feel that way to just let it all out there and play as strong as I could.”
The Canadians were firing on all cylinders with a 7-3 advantage in the early going, but Thailand responded and slowly chipped away as Canada went into the technical timeout up 16-15. Thailand went on a 6-1 run out of the break to go up 21-17 but Canada regrouped after an Eisler time out with a 7-2 streak of their own to regain a one-point lead. Both teams exchanged points and two final errors by Thailand secured the first set, 28-26, in favour of Canada.
Thailand got out to a 6-2 lead in the second set but Kelsey Veltman rallied the troops with three of her 10 points on the day to bring the Canucks back within one. Thailand led 16-13 at the technical timeout and this time it was Canada who edged their way back. An Alina Dormann block tied it at 18-18 and White registered three of the last five points as Canada took a 2-0 match lead, 25-22.
Unlike the first two, the third set started as a back-and-forth battle, with neither team holding more than a two-point advantage. However, with the game tied at 8-8, Canada went on an 11-2 run through the technical timeout to put the set out of reach and ultimately took the match 25-16.
“I feel Canada’s name for volleyball just isn’t out there as much as we’d like it to be,” added White. “It just means the world that we can start showing ourselves as a country and as a team that we’re stronger than we look, and not as nice as we look.”
Canada (2-0) will now look to secure the top spot in Group A as they do battle with Russia (2-0) on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT / 5:30 a.m. PDT (2:30 p.m. local) before quarter-finals commence on Tuesday.