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Canadian men edge Cuba in tiebreaker to open Volleyball Nations League campaign

The Canadian men’s volleyball squad went the distance in a five-set battle with Cuba on Tuesday, coming out victorious in their Volleyball Nations League opener in Ottawa.

Canada took the first and third sets 25-21, while Cuba tied the match twice with 28-26 and 25-22 victories in the second and the fourth sets, respectively. The Canadian men then edged the Cubans in the tiebreaker 15-13 to start their campaign with a 3-2 victory.

Opposite Ryan Sclater, of Port Coquitlam, B.C., led Canada with 27 points while Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ont., added 18. Captain Nicholas Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que., (13) and Toronto’s Danny Demyanenko (10) also reached double digits. Jesus Herrera Jaime scored 28 to lead Cuba.

“It’s great [to start the Volleyball Nations League with a five-set win] because we want that to be part of our identity,” said Sclater after the game. “That we always keep fighting even when things aren’t going well, thought the ups and downs of the game. [We] just have to find that level of togetherness and fight, so that was good to see.”

Canada managed 17 blocking points, outshining Cuba, which only posted six, in the stat.

The Canadians were also less mistake prone, handing Cuba 24 points from errors while benefiting 35 times from the opposition’s mistakes. Both teams had three aces.

The Canadian squad will next face Argentina on Friday, the U.S. on Saturday and Germany on Sunday, in pool 1 action, all at TD Place before the competition shifts to Orléans, France, in late June, and then Pasay City, Philippines, in July. “It’s really fun [to play games at home],” Sclater said. “The summers can be long and [with] a ton of games, [and we spend] a ton of time away, so the change to get to play at home, with all of [fans and family] here is so amazing.”

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