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(photo credit: Courtesy )
Israel will be the team to beat Wednesday in both the men's and women's finals for the Maccabiah Open division Volleyball tournament.
In the men's competition Israel swept scrappy Canada off their feet in a four-set match with a 25-14, 26-24, 21-25, 25-22 victory Tuesday evening, sending Israel to face USA for the men's final Wednesday evening.
Despite struggling in the beginning of the match, Canada put up a fierce offense against Israel.
Right-side hitter Josh Boruck carried his Team Canada not only in kills, but also with momentum Tuesday evening.
Team Israel coach Avishai Karbovsky said, "A final is something different from a semifinal. USA played very good [today]. Our Team is very young - most of them are soldiers, and I hope to win."
In a heated five-set match, men's Team USA claimed its victory on Tuesday afternoon at Kfar Saba's Bar-Lev Hall in their semifinal match against Team Brazil.
Brazil took games one and three with scores of 25-19 and 25-22. But Team USA came out on top and won games two, three and five with scores of 32-30, 25-22, and 15-12.
Talented right-side hitter Pablo Yahuda of Team Brazil, who also used to play in the National League in Israel, said, "It is overwhelming playing here together with different Jews, and all play the same sport. We are all buddies."
Yahuda said he was "really pleased to play with the guys on [this] team."
Outside hitter Ian Peckler of the USA said, "After the first game [today], we brought it together and came out with the win."
With over 13 missed serves, men's Team USA is lucky their serving average didn't cost them their victory.
Peckler, confident about the finals, said, "If we want to contend against Israel we need to make 75 percent of our serves."
Women's Team USA didn't come out as lucky when Team Brazil took a victory in overtime. Brazil won games one, three and five 25-17, 25-17 and 16-14, and USA won games two and four 25-20 and 25-21.
USA didn't let Team Brazil walk away with an easy victory.
With a fierce performance from the entire Team overall, star setter Kendal Polan said, "In past matches we hadn't played as well, [but] this match made us fight together. It didn't matter our age, we pulled together and worked together."
Women's Team USA had a little better serving average, as Polan led the Team with six ace jump-serves.
Brazil's head coach told The Jerusalem Post, "This is Brazil's second consecutive time in Maccabiah finals."
With another strong performance out of the middle and back row defense, Vanessa Valansi said, "We knew today was hard, but we just have to fight until the end. They pushed us to the limit."
Valansi added, "If Israel was not here, this would have been the final."
With strong net play, vicious offense and strapping defense, women's Team Israel swept Canada off the volleyball court Tuesday in a quick three-set match of 25-14, 25-11, and 25-7.
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