Canada Earns a Direct Ticket to Semis over Cuba

Nogales, Mexico, June 13, 2024. – Canada earned a direct ticket in the semifinals of the Men’s U21 NORCECA Continental Championship after defeating Cuba 3-1 (17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21) on Thursday in Nogales, Mexico.

Canada earned its semifinal berth for Saturday as the leader of pool B with a perfect 3-0 record. Cuba finished second in the group with a 2-1 record and will face Suriname in quarterfinals on Friday.

Canadian opposite hitter Daniil Harshtynovich led all scorers with 24 points (19 attacks, 2 blocks, 3 aces). Outside hitter Piers added 20 points (16 attacks, 3 blocks, one ace), and middle blocker Cody Hudson contributed a match-high of 7 blocks.

CAN de Greeff spikes

For Cuba, opposite hitter Daniel Martínez led with 20 points, including a team-high of 5 blocks. Kelly Oviedo added 13 points (12 attacks, one ace), and Carlos Pereira scored 12 points (8 attacks, 4 blocks).

After losing the first set, Canada quickly jumped to a 5-1 lead in the second set and finished strong with two blocks by De Greef and a Cuban error. The third set was blocking spree, with Canada opening with three consecutive blocks (Fisher, Cherewaty, De Greef). In the fourth set, with the score tied at 11 points, Canada pulled away thanks to a direct attack from Boyko and two consecutive aces by Harshtynovich, maintaining their lead until the end.

CUB Daniel Martinez attack

Head coach of Canada, Deniel Lewis said “I think in the first set they had a lot of stress, and the players needed to manage those kinds of situations; but we weren’t executing as our game plan. I had to calm the team down, get them to work on the game plan and they were able to do so. Today’s best skill was mentally, they came back from losing the first set, they stayed focused to execute in different situations. I am really proud of the guys, honestly, they are a young group and they’re doing so well”.

Cuba’s captain, Ronaldo Flaquet, commented, “It was a close match; we were always near, but we couldn’t capitalize on our chances. We weren’t decisive. We stopped playing our game; it wasn’t that they were better”.