November 21, 2006, Sendai, Japan ó Canada triumphed in a rollercoaster five-set match over Tunisia on Tuesday to advance to the second round.
The No. 12 ranked Canucks won 25-15, 27-29, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13 in a Pool D game lasting almost two hours to improve to 3-1, while Tunisia dropped to 1-3.
The Tunisians couldnít get a handle on the game in the opening set and the second technical break arrived with a seven-point gap between the teams.
Frederic Winters was proving a constant thorn in the side of the Tunisians from his wing positions and, with constant encouragement from his teammates, the spikerís confidence was soaring with each winner struck.
Nothing was going right for Tunisia. A net violation brought up set point and a touch-and-go winner right on the line from Pascal Cardinal claimed the set.
Tunisia got things together at the start of the second set and an Aymen Ben Brik ace helped them go into the first technical break 8-3 ahead.
The North Africans went into the second TTO 16-11 up after a towering block from Chaker Ghezal, who was matching Steve Brinkman for his work at the net, but Canada was not giving up on the set easily.
The lead was whittled down to one with four points in a row from Canada ó Tunisia coach Antonio Giacobbe called a time out in a bid to stop the rot.
It didnít help. Canada drew level and moved ahead 18-17 with another Winters smash, before Paul Duerdenís huge spike as he fell back gave them a two-point cushion.
Giacobbe had seen enough: time for another time out.
This one had more a desire effect. The scores were soon level at 22 apiece and Tunisia then secured set point at 24-23.
Set points were lost left, right and center for both teams, but then Ben Brik stepped up on and let go with a winner that gave Tunisia the set, 29-27.
A bitty start to the third set saw Canada go into the first TTO 8-5 up, but a game that looked like an easy win for the Canucks was now a tough one to call.
They slowly inched away from the Tunisians courtesy of some quality blocking and then a clever dink from Winters in the center brought up the second technical break at 16-12.
But Tunisia kept on probing. Hosni Karamosly hammered in a steep spike at the net and when Winters hit long, Canada coach Glenn Hoag called a time out with his team hanging on to a 19-18 lead.
Tunisia changed the score around to 20-19 in their favor and Hoag called his teamís second TO. But nothing was going right for his team and a long spike from Duerden was ruled out, giving the opposition set point.
The North Africans only needed one go at securing the set as Ben Brik steamed in on the left to dispatch the ball down the middle of the court.
There was no let up from Tunisia in the fourth set ó the side was unrecognizable from the motley crew that had started the match.
Ghazi Guidara was now in irresistible form and the captainís sumptuous skills took his team to the first TTO 8-5 ahead and they a kept a one-point advantage going into the second one.
But Canada came back at them and some inspired blocking saw the score change to 22-18 in their favor, before Duerden brought set point with a pile-driver and then won that with a spike too strong for the Tunisian blockers.
Brinkman ended a mammoth rally to put Canada 9-6 up in the fifth and final set and Canada looked the more likely winners, but Tunisia pulled within one point at 11-10.
Cardinal brought up match point for Canada, though, and after two were saved Winters came up with the goods on the left to send his side into the second round.