Cuba advances to NORCECA U19 Gold Medal match with thrilling Semifinal Win

PONCE, Puerto Rico, May 18, 2024. – Cuba advanced to the gold medal match of the Boys U19 NORCECA U19 Continental Championship with a thrilling five-set victory 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-8) over host Puerto Rico on Saturday night at Salvador Dijols Coliseum.

In the title match, Cuba will face United States again, whom they lost to in straight sets during the pool-play. The NORCECA Champion earns a berth to the 2025 FIVB World Championship.

Puerto Rico will face Canada for the tournament’s bronze medal.

There were many inconsistencies from both teams, where Cuba secured their spot in the final with a comfortable 15-8 tie-break win, outscoring Puerto Rico 10-4 in attack points in that set.

Although Puerto Rico controlled in the blocking category (11-9), Cuba’s significant advantage in attacks (67-49) made the difference. Cuba had a slight margin in serving (6-5). Cuba committed fewer unforced errors than Puerto Rico (23-28).

Cuban Andy Marrero blocks Gustavo Alvarez of Puerto Rico

Andy Marrero led Cuba’s offense with 26 points, 24 from attacks, one block, and one ace. Opposite Yosdani Medina totaled 21 points, 20 from attacks, and one ace. Outside hitter Alessandro González added 15 points and team captain, setter Ronaldo Flaquet contributed 10 more points.

Outside hitters Adrián Carrillo and Gustavo Alvarez each scored 12 points for Puerto Rico. Maximiliano Aponte contributed 11 points.

Ronaldo Flaquet, Captain of Cuba: “We have struggled a lot in every match, but the important thing is that we have come out ahead. We have fought every match to the end, just as we showed today. We wanted to secure a spot in the World Championship. We owe the victory to our determination, effort, and powerful attacks.”

Carlos De Sevilla, Head coach of Puerto Rico: “This group is under 17, we are two or one year younger than the opposing team. I am satisfied with the game; we came from behind and were able to close the second and fourth sets. I think the inexperience in the fifth set was evident. We battled until the end, gave a good show, and represented Puerto Rico with dignity.”