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In epic upset, Canada knock off Russia in men’s World League volleyball

Hands reaching for a volleyball in this file photo.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canada's men's volleyball team produced one of the biggest victories in its history Thursday, upsetting Olympic champion Russia in five sets in its opening match in the FIVB World League Final.

Canada overcame a 0-2 deficit in sets to take the match 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11).

Canada is ranked 18th in the world and Russia second. The Russians were playing their 73rd World League Final match while Canada was playing its first.

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Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., led the Canadian attack with 20 points, Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon, who missed the last five matches due to a leg injury, added 13 and Fred Winters of Victoria chipped in 11.

Canada coach Glenn Hoag said there is still room for improvement despite the incredible win.

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

Canada reached the final by placing first in Group C during the preliminary round with a record of 8-2. Canada has won seven straight matches with Thursday's win.

In the Pool E World League Final standings, Russia (1-1) is first with three points, Canada (1-0) second with two and Brazil (0-1) third at 1 point. In five set matches the winning team gets two points and the loser one. Russia beat Brazil in five on Wednesday.

In Pool D, Bulgaria (1-0) is first with three points while Argentina (0-1) and Italy (0-0) have no points. Italy faces Bulgaria later Thursday. The top-two in each group advance to the semis on Saturday.

Canada plays the number-one ranked Brazilians on Friday.

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