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Ecstatic Canadians celebrate a win in their first VNL home match

Canada fed from the energy of their fans in their first-ever Volleyball Nations League home match to secure a huge win against last year’s bronze medallists Türkiye on the opening day of the third and final week of the Preliminary Phase of the 2022 edition of the tournament in Calgary.

The Canadians stunned the Turkish with a 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23) victory on Tuesday to start the third week of competition in a strong manner. Canada are now ranked 15th in the FIVB World Rankings, while Türkiye are sixth.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

The Canadian power at the block was arguably the biggest difference between the two teams. While the North Americans produced 14 block points, the Europeans were only able to stop their opponents four times.

Offensively, outside hitter Alexa Gray and opposite Kiera Van Ryk led the way for the winners. The 27-year-old Gray was her team’s top scorer with 22 points (18 kills, four blocks) while the 23-year-old Van Ryk added another 20 with 18 kills and two aces.

Alexa Gray Points (Canada vs. Türkiye)

Outside hitter Hilary Howe also had a productive night with eight kills, four blocks and two aces adding up to 14 more points, while setter Brie King also contributed with her blocking, scoring three of her five points in stuffs.

“It’s a huge win for us,” team captain and middle blocker Jennifer Cross said. “We haven’t hosted a tournament in a long time and to win at home in such an important match for us, it can’t be overstated. We talked about playing one game at a time and it really showed. We were 100% focused on this match and we’ll keep taking it day by day. We’ve done some mental work to be ready to reset when things don’t go well, and it was nice to see it pay off. I’m so happy with the crowd, it really makes a difference.”

Turkish star opposite Ebrar Karakurt led all scorers with 23 points (20 kills, two aces, one block). The only other European to reach double digits in scoring was middle blocker Zehra Gunes, who added another 15 (13 kills, one block, one ace).

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The Canadians played in front of a big crowd in their first match in Calgary

The victory has kept the Canadians in the chase for a spot in the VNL Finals. They now rank ninth with four wins (12 points), tied in victories and points with eighth-placed Thailand. Guaranteed a place in the Finals as the host country, Türkiye are in seventh place, with five wins (15 points).

Canada still have to play Serbia (Friday), Germany (Saturday) and the Netherlands (Sunday) before the end of the Preliminary Phase, while the Turkish will face the Netherlands, Japan and the United States between Thursday and Saturday.