Costa Rica beats hosts Guatemala to advance into semifinals

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 16, 2023.- Costa Rica beat hosts Guatemala 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-21) to advance into the semifinals of the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup in the Guatemala City Dome.

Costa Rica will face United States and the other semifinal will be Mexico against Puerto Rico.

Costa Rica left little to none chances for Guatemala to respond to their strong attacks and blocks, dominating the entire match with consistency.

The winners held a huge 13-2 margin in blocks and a 44-33 advantage in attacks, both teams scored two points from serves. Guatemala committed fewer errors (16-18).

Outside hitter Stanley Grant scored a match-high of 22 points on 16 kills, the most blocks of 5 points and one ace, followed by opposite hitter Yulius Brown with 13 points on 10 kills and three blocks, and outside hitter Julián Araya registered 12 points on 11 kills and one block.

Outside hitter Pedro Villatoro topped Guatemala with 9 points and middle blocker Andrés Paz added 8 points.

Yulius Brown (CRC) attacks

Robertocarlo Argüello, head coach of Costa Rica: “What made the difference was our pool in the preliminary round, having played against United States, Mexico and Belize helped us gain confidence. We had two experiences last year against Guatemala and we know each other well. Our strength is attacking high over the net, and everything went well. Traveling from Costa Rica our goal was to finish among the first four positions, now we are thinking of reaching the podium”.

Theo Wandel, central de Guatemala: “The team’s concentration wasn’t at its best, we failed in receiving and there was no back row defense, they scored mostly there. We must recover mentally because there are two days of competitions left”.

Mexico secures their place in semifinals

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 16, 2023.- Mexico secured their place in the NORCECA U19 Boys Pan American Cup semifinals defeating Nicaragua 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-15) in the quarterfinals on Friday in Guatemala.

Mexico maintained comfortable leads in the first and third sets, but they struggled to recover from a four-point deficit (4-8) in the second while Nicaragua largely improved with a faster game.

Mexico prevailed 35-19 in kills, 9-4 in blocks and 4-1 in serves, while committing 24 unforced errors against 27 from Nicaragua.

The only player with double digits was Mexican outside hitter Ines Vargas with 12 points on 10 kills and two points on serves. Also contributing to the win were opposite hitter Julio Serrano and outside hitter Victor Miranda with 7 and 6 points respectively.

Middle blocker Edu Urbina led Nicaragua with 8 points all on kills.

Victor Miranda (MEX) attacks

Alfredo Vazquez, libero of Mexico: “We were overconfident in the second set after a strong first set, it wasn’t our usual performance, there were confusions and technical errors on our side. We are closer to the goal of reaching the final and winning the tournament.

Oscar Viña, head coach of Mexico: “I made several variations in the second set because I need to know how my bench players perform, I made five changes; I saw the opportunity to do it now thinking that our next matches will be more demanding. I was part of the errors; I take the learning”.

Jorge Mena head coach of Nicaragua: “The loss against Guatemala discouraged the team and today it was a dull game. Our goal now is to beat all our opponents and to finish in fifth place, which isn’t a bad position for us in the tournament”.

Puerto Rico wins semifinal spot over Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 15, 2023.- Puerto Rico won a semifinal spot at the NORCECA U19 Pan American Cup beating Guatemala 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-16) on Wednesday at the Guatemala City Dome.

Puerto Rico topped pool B 3-0 reaching Friday’s semifinals, while the host Guatemala finished second 2-1 and will face Costa Rica in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.

Puerto Rico blocked Guatemala the entire match by a huge 12-4 margin, they also led 34-24 in kills and 3-1 in aces. Both committed a similar number of errors, Puerto Rico 24, and Guatemala 26.

Opposite hitter Dylan Velazquez led Puerto Rico with 16 points on 13 kills and 3 blocks, followed by outside hitter Victor Torres with 11 points and outside hitter Franco Roark chipped in with 7 points.

Guatemala’s leading scorer was middle blocker Sergio Paz with 8 points.

Victor Torres (PUR) Serving

Dylan Velázquez, top scorer of Puerto Rico: “This was our best match so far, all our practice paid off, all went well; we defended and served well, putting the ball in. We are now in the semifinals, we are going to give our all and we have a small dispute against Mexico, we want to win if we get to face them”.

Carlos De Sevilla, head coach of Puerto Rico: “We are glad, the boys executed the game plan we practiced today, we felt comfortable compared to other matches. Without taking any merit from Guatemala, we pressured them, the blocking was in position and the boys performed well. Now we must rest and prepare for the next match”.

Luis Fernando Castañeda, head coach of Guatemala: “Today was our turn to lose, Puerto Rico plays very well and they adjusted their serves well, complicating our reception. The team battled against one of the powerhouse of the area, but we lack experience and practice matches which in the end affects us. We continue to work, now we must focus on tomorrow’s match against Costa Rica”. 

Nicaragua third in pool B will face Mexico in quarterfinals 

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 15, 2023.- Nicaragua finished third in pool B beating Suriname 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) and will face Mexico in quarterfinals at the NORCECA U19 Boys Pan American Cup in Guatemala.

Nicaragua with 1-2 record in pool B finished third to move into the quarterfinal round to face Mexico that finished second in pool A. Suriname ended the preliminary round 0-3 and will play for positions 5-8.

Nicaragua controlled the attacks with a 36-31 margin and Suriname held a slim 8-7 advantage in blocks. Both teams scored one ace. Nicaragua committed 22 errors and Suriname a total of 31.

Opposite hitter Victor Bermudez and outside hitter Evans Solis led Nicaragua with 14 points each; Bermudez on 12 kills and two blocks, Evans on 13 kills and one block.

Outside hitter Anfernee Lee led Suriname scoring 12 points on 11 kills and one block, joined by opposite hitter Meson Anakaba who tallied 11 points on 9 kills and two blocks.  

Nicaragua celebrates first win

Cristhoper Castillo, captain of Nicaragua: “Today the other outside hitter made the difference, we have made many variations during the tournament and today things worked well. Tomorrow, we face Mexico, a strong opponent and we will give our all”.

Jorge Mena, head coach of Nicaragua: “It wasn’t an option to lose, we needed the win to be in the next round. We practiced well in the morning session and the players were obedient during the game, they saw that the force isn’t enough and that they have hit against the blocking, that made us win”.

Siryan Meijer, setter of Suriname: “It was a close match but we always make childish mistakes at the end of the sets. We really wanted to win today and play in the quarterfinals, we are disappointed. The team needs to be more enthusiastic, aggressive and communicate better”.

Mexico defeats Belize and finishes second in pool A 

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 15, 2023.- Mexico defeated Belize 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-15) and finished second in pool A of the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup in Guatemala.

Mexico finished pool-play with a 2-1 win-loss record and will play in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Belize ends with 0-3 and will play for positions 5-8.

Mexico prevailed over Belize with a 26-20 advantage in attacks, 10-4 in blocks and 6-1 in aces. In errors, Mexico committed 17 against 33 from Belize.

Opposite hitter Julio Serrano topped Mexico attackers with 10 points on 6 kills and 4 blocks, followed by middle blocker Diego Hernández and outside hitter Brandon Ramírez with 8 and 6 points respectively.

Outside hitter Eleazar Mejía of Belize led all scorers with 15 points on 14 kills and one block.

Brandon Ramirez (MEX) attacks against Belize (2)

Oscar Viña, head coach of Mexico: “The most difficult match of this phase was against United States, we tried, but slowly we will find more opportunities in which we might take advantage and we are a more experienced team than the other teams in this pool. Now we must focus on the quarterfinals, our goal is to reach the semifinals. We are aiming to play for a medal, we have prepared for that”.

Albert Humes, head coach of Belize: “My team got really tired during this phase of the competition, the short time to prepare showed and the longevity wasn’t there, so today they were flat. Mexico did a good job scouting us and they executed well”.

United States earns ticket into semifinals winning pool A

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 15, 2023.- United States earned a ticket into semifinals winning pool A after defeating Costa Rica 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-17) at the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup on Wednesday in Guatemala City.

United States topped pool A undefeated (3-0) to play in Friday’s semifinals. Costa Rica finishes (1-2) and waits for the result between Mexico and Belize to learn their final pool A position.

The Americans had the opportunity to use new players on the court, finishing with a huge 46-23 margin in kills, 8-1 in blocks and 6-0 in aces. They scored on 31 opponent errors against 15 of their own.

Outside hitter Victor Loiola led the U.S. with 15 points on 13 kills, one block and one ace. Also contributing to the win were opposite hitter Marek Turner and Joshua Aruya with 10 points each.

On Costa Rica side, outside hitter Stanley Grant led with 11 points all on kills.

United States qualifies to smifinals

Victor Loiola, top scorer of United States:  “We had some new faces in today, everybody did their job and capitalized on that energy from the start; we played a good match. As a team we need to improve our pre-count checklist, going through what we must see on the other side of the net, what they are going to run and how we are going to stop it”.

Matthew Fuerbringer, head coach of United States: “After the match I spoke to the team about completing our first stage, completing our goal of 3-0 and winning the stage. Now it’s a lot about recovery, we must be smart to recover and get together to watch some video with the guys so everyone can get better, especially those whose first time on the court was today; get as much time as we can in this day and a half to get ready for the medal round”.

David Córdoba, captain of Costa Rica: “United States is a physical team, they are very structured during the game and I believe they weren’t superior the entire match, we couldn’t take advantage of those moments when they weren’t, we were one or two points of catching up with them Now we wait for the result of the next match”.

Guatemala picks up second win at NORCECA U19 Pan Am Cup

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 14, 2023.- Guatemala picked up their second win defeating Nicaragua 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-18) at the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup on Tuesday night at the Guatemala City Dome.

Guatemala improved their record 2-0 to remain undefeated and will face Puerto Rico (2-0) to decide pool B winner. Nicaragua drops to 0-2 and will close pool-play against Suriname (0-2).

Guatemala recovered from falling in the first set, struggling to catch up from a three-point deficit in the second (15-18) and holding Nicaraguans better blocking to even the scores. From there on Guatemala controlled Nicaragua.

The hosts held huge advantages in kills (50-39) and aces (11-3), while Nicaragua finished with a 10-2 blocking margin. Guatemala handed out 29 points in errors and Nicaragua a total of 33.

Outside hitter Roberto Recinos and middle blocker Sergio Paz led Guatemala’s attackers with 16 and 11 points respectively.

Outside hitter Evans Solís once again topped Nicaragua’s offense scoring a match-high of 18 points and middle blocker Edu Urbina added 12 points.

Adolfo Rivas and Ferdinando Gonzalez (GUA) celebrates

Luis Fernando Castañeda, head coach of Guatemala: “The coaching staff is confident of our team and we knew they could recover for the win. The changes turned out well, we were facing a strong opponent and our serves worked better after falling in the first set. It’s important to keep on winning”.

Jorge Mena, head coach of Nicaragua: “We have many rookies on the team and they can’t keep up with the pressure. Guatemala has a team with more experience and that made us hesitate, we lack consistency which makes us commit too many errors at crucial moments. It’s not an option to lose tomorrow so we can advance into the next round”.

Costa Rica wins five-set thriller to Belize

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 14, 2023.- Costa Rica won a five-set thriller 3-2 (25-14, 21-25, 30-32, 25-18, 15-11) over Central American rival Belize at the NORCECA U19 Pan American Cup in Guatemala.

This was Costa Rica’s first win in pool A improving their record 1-1, while Belize stands with 0-2.

Belize turned up the heat winning the second set but not before missing two set points. Brayden Richardson put an end to a marathon third set 32-30 with a monster block. Costa jumped to an early 8-0 advantage in the fourth and remained on top to reach a tie-break finish.

Costa Rica led in blocks 15-13, while Belize dominated 53-50 in kills and 3-2 in aces. Costa Rica scored on 49 Belizean errors and handed out 31 points.

Outside hitter Stanley Grant topped Costa Rica with 24 points on 20 kills and 4 blocks, joined by outside hitter Julian Araya with 13 points (12 kills, one ace) and opposite hitter Yulius Brown with 12 points (10 kills, 2 blocks).

Belizean Eleazar Mejía led all scorers with 28 points, the most so far in the tournament, on 26 kills, one block and one ace. Opposite hitter Daniel Musa added 14 points on 9 kills, 4 blocks and one ace; and outside hitter Preston Smith scored 13 points on 11 kills and 2 blocks.

On Wednesday, Costa Rica (1-1) plays against the United States (2-0) and Belize (0-2) faces Mexico (1-1).

Huge celebration of Gabriel Obando (12) of Costa Rica

Stanley Grant, top scorer of Costa Rica: “Belize is a strong opponent, it has very good players that can make the difference during a match. Costa Rica had a lot of courage to recover coming from behind, we were superior. We are happy and hoping for more wins”.

Robertocarlo Argüello, head coach of Costa Rica: “Since we saw them at the Central American championship, where they finished third place, we were expecting them to be a tough opponent. We had difficulties in the second and third sets, committing too many errors. We were able to order them giving the necessary instructions during time-out, they understood that they must give the ball to the setter for us to manage the game. I believe Costa Rica still isn’t performing at its level, we must go on learning”.

Nicanor Requena, captain of Belize: “Costa Rica had a little more hustle than we did, but the team played well, and we are very proud of our performance”. 

United States battles to down Mexico in pool A

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 14, 2023.- The United States battled to down Mexico 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-20) on Tuesday in pool A at the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup in Guatemala.

In the first set Mexico remarkably recovered from an eight-point deficit (8-16) to win the first set, challenging the U.S. in every way. United States slowly gained control but still it was a one-on-one clash. This was the U.S. second tournament win (2-0) and Mexico’s first loss (1-1).

United States led 53-39 in kills, 9-6 in blocks and 4-3 in serves. Mexico had fewer errors (32-25).

Opposite hitter Finn Kearney and outside hitter Sterling Foley led United States with 16 points each; Finn on 13 kills and three blocks, Sterling on 15 kills and one block. Outside hitter Sean Kelly also contributed in the win with 14 points on 10 kills one block and the most aces with 3.

Mexico’s leading scorer was outside hitter Ines Vargas with 15 points on 14 kills and one ace, followed by Victor Miranda with 11 points on 10 kills and one ace.

United States will face Costa Rica (0-1) and Mexico goes against Belize (0-1) on the last day of the preliminary round.

José Adame (MEX) back sets against USA

Finn Kearny, top scorer of United States: “The difference from the first set from the rest of the match was our energy and passing, when we were able to get in system, we were unstoppable. Once we got a big lead, and we didn’t give up. We expect a lot of wins”.

Matthew Fuerbringer, head coach of United States: “We had a high-level match, Mexico was really good and in the first two sets we weren’t. In system we were great the entire match, so that was a good improvement from our past match. Mexico dig a lot of balls, they kept everything in play, a well-coached team, a very smart team and that’s a great win for us today, they made us compete at a high level the entire match”.  

Ines Vargas, top scorer of Mexico: “We were focused and more into the game at the start, we tried very hard, we were confident and we came behind from eight points; if we continue to perform like this we might play the final match against them. United States studied us well, our weaknesses and that’s how they won”.

Puerto Rico records second win at NORCECA U19 Pan Am Cup

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, March 14, 2023.- Puerto Rico scored their second win at the NORCECA Boys U19 Pan American Cup beating Suriname 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-19).

After a closely contested second set, where Suriname thrilled with longer rallies and reaching an even 24,  Puerto Rico came out on top in their second win in pool B.

Puerto Rico led with a huge 40-20 advantage in attacks and 11-2 in serves, they also held a slim 5-4 margin in blocks. Suriname committed fewer errors (20-34).

Outside hitter Victor Torres of Puerto Rico scored a match-high of 17 points on 12 kills, one block and 4 aces. Outside hitter Franco Roark and opposite hitter Dylan Velázquez contributed with 12 and 10 points respectively.

Opposite hitter Meson Anakaba led Suriname with 11 points on 10 kills and one block, joined by outside hitter Leong Lee with 9 points.

Pool-play finishes on Wednesday with Puerto Rico (2-0) facing Guatemala (1-0) and Suriname (0-2) against Nicaragua (0-1).

Víctor Torres, top scorer of  Puerto Rico: “Our strength is the hard work we’ve been doing in practice. There are things to improve, everyday we’re doing it better. The second set was close because of some technical errors that shouldn’t be hard to correct during practice”.

Velazquez (PUR) spikes against Suriname double block Lee (3), Sibendi (12)

Mesón Anakaba, top scorer of Suriname: “I think I could have done much better than I did today, I am going to work hard to improve. We had more fighting spirit in the second set, but because of our mistakes we not only lost the set but the match as well”.