Canada celebrate their victory against China

It took them five attempts, but Canada won their first-ever FIVB Volleyball Nations League match on Tuesday, when they defeated China 3-2 in the secure ‘bubble’ in Rimini, Italy.

The moment had been in the back of Canadian players’ minds since they started preparing for the tournament under the guidance of new head coach Shannon Winzer, but the actual feel of it surpassed any expectations they could have had.

"It's surreal, I can't even believe we're here," said outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic, who tallied 17 points in the match. "It was a team effort all the way through. We had a tough five-set loss yesterday and approached it as a team and found a way to win this one."

Monday’s 3-2 defeat to Turkey could have drained Canada's energy ahead of another five-set match, but it had the opposite effect instead.

During the match with Turkey, the North Americans felt their first-ever VNL victory was close, but also figured out how to make it happen.

"The experience of yesterday's match really helped us," Mitrovic explained. "We're a really young team and we felt that we didn't know how to close the match or what to do in key moments against Turkey. But we learned from yesterday’s experience and I could tell we used some of those lessons today."

Their historical victory came against no less than the reigning Olympic champions and the team occupying second place in the world ranking, China, who had downed Canada in each of their previous five meetings in major international tournaments. Even though the Asians are fielding a young lineup at the beginning of the VNL, they won three of their first four matches in the tournament before meeting the Canadians.

"Winning our first VNL match is huge," Mitrovic added. "And even more against a team like China, they’re so good. It’s crazy that we managed to win the match and I think teams will be a little more scared about what we can do from now on."

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