LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Canadian men's volleyball team just missed out on its first Olympic berth in 20 years.
Canada played three competitive sets against the United States before losing to the defending Olympic gold medallists 28-26, 25-18, 25-20 Saturday night in the final of the NORCECA Olympic men's qualifying tournament at Long Beach State University.
With the victory, the United States qualifies for the London Games. Canada was seeking its first Olympic berth since 1992.
Dallas Soonias led Canada with 17 kills and Fred Winters added 12 kills.
Matt Anderson pounded 13 kills for the United States. Teammate Clayton Stanley had 12 kills and two service aces, and David Lee had seven kills and five blocks.
"We didn't play very well," said Canada head coach Glenn Hoag. "We made too many errors and the Americans really put the pressure on us with their service and their blocking game."
Up to that point it had been a remarkable tournament for the Canadians, ranked 18th in the world. They went 3-0 in the round-robin, not even losing a set, which included wins over world number-17 Puerto Rico and world number-five Cuba. In the semifinal Friday, they beat the Puerto Ricans again in a five-set thriller.
But against one of the sport's true superpowers the Canadians met their match.
"We showed a lot of great things over this week," Hoag said. "But we're still a team that sometimes lacks finish and some confidence and that can't happen when you play a team like the U.S."