Netherlands solidifies VNL playoff bid with huge win vs. Canada

The Netherlands put pressure on France in the VNL playoff race with a huge win against Canada. Roy Domingo/PNVF
By Dugout Philippines

PASAY—The Netherlands shored up its playoff aspirations by scoring a crucial 25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 25-18 win over Canada on Day 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) men’s tournament Week 3 on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Save for a third-set stumble, the Dutch were on target in finishing off the Canadians in only one hour and 37 minutes to strengthen their hold of the coveted No. 8 spot with a 5-4 win-loss record.

The win, behind the heroics of skipper Nimir Abdel-Aziz, was a shot in the arm for the Netherlands in a tightrope race with reigning France, which interestingly lags behind at No. 9 with a 4-5 card.

Only the top eight squads from the 16-team VNL—organized by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and Volleyball World with Ganten, Gerflor, Mikasa, Mizuno, Senoh, and as global sponsors—march on to the final round from July 19-24 in Poland.

“It’s really important. We know it’s really close in the battle for the 7th and 8th place so we needed this win to keep our hopes of qualifying to the finals,” said Abdel-Aziz, who sizzled with 24 points on 22 attacks and two aces.

Abdel-Aziz’s outburst included three straight points in the pivotal second set, where the world No. 10 Netherlands after a narrow 25-22 win in the opening set dropped a 4-0 finishing kick to snatch a 25-22 win and post a massive 2-0 lead.

Jorna Gjis added 12 points and Maarten Van Garderen chipped in 11 with Wessel Keemink facilitating the Dutch’s fiery offense behind 18 sets.

Canada, behind Ryan Joseph Sclater, woke up in the third set ignited by a 17-7 start to extend the match only for Abdel-Aziz to bring the Netherlands home in the fourth set. Teaming up with Garderen this time, the 6-foot-7 Abdel-Aziz fired two straight kills while Garderen took his turn by launching three aces in a row for a hot 5-1 Netherlands start.

The Dutch never looked back for a massive win ahead of another important duel against powerhouse Brazil (6-3) on Thursday in the final preliminary leg of the VNL that also has PLDT, Rebisco, Akari, and the PSC as major sponsors.

Sclater rifled in 20 points but Canada, world No. 15, still absorbed its seventh loss in nine matches to stay in 14th place in the VNL Philippine leg also backed by support from Fitbar, Instax Fujifilm, Fitness First, Pasay City, Taguig City, Diamond Hotel, Maynilad, Peugeot, SM MOA Arena, The Look and The Moment Group with Cignal, Inquirer Group, RMN, DOOH, One Sports, One Sports+ and Mega Mobile as media partners. 

Canada's next foe on the same day is Italy (6-3), which will ride on a stunning 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 win over Brazil in the opener.

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