Led by a 28-point performance by Saskatoon's Gavin Schmitt, Canada beat Finland 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 15-11 in front of a boisterous crowd of 2,800 fans.
"We knew it was going to be a fight," said Schmitt, who finished with 25 kills, two service aces and one block. "A big part of winning is just fighting through games where you're not playing perfect and finding ways to win. We've got a lot of things we've still got to work on and fix and build. We're still in the building process. We'll get there."
Gord Perrin, of Creston, B.C., also had a strong outing with 23 points on 20 kills, two service aces and one block.
"We weren't playing our best volleyball and we know that and we fought through it," Perrin said. "It was a hard-fought match that we came out on top of and we're going to need that if we want to go far in the World League."
After losing in straight sets 25-21, 25-19, 25-20 on Saturday, the Finns rebounded to capture the first set on Sunday.
"Today we were much better," said Finnish captain Antti Siltula. "We took one step forward. We had chances to win take this game. I think we need one step more."
Canada rallied to capture the second set thanks to a back-row kill by Schmitt followed by a big block by Toontje Van Lankvelt of Brandon, Man., for game point.
Canada's third-set win was punctuated by a service ace by Schmitt on game point. Up 20-16 in the third set, Canada couldn't put away the plucky Finns, who scored nine of the next 12 points to force a fifth-and-deciding set.
"In the fourth, we had the game in hand, but Finland made three or four spectacular digs," said Canadian coach Glenn Hoag. "I wish we could have finished it there, but they played really well."
Canadian captain Frederic Winters of Victoria served for the final two points in the fifth set, including an ace on match point.
"We just said we have to man up and win the set," said Perrin, who will travel with his Canadian teammates overseas to face Belgium in more Pool C action on June 6 in Liege and two days later in Antwerp. "It's going to be tough next week against Belgium because they're a good team."