Cuba tops the preliminary round undefeated

TEPIC, Nayarit, Mexico, July 15, 2022.- Cuba topped the preliminary round undefeated winning their last match to Mexico 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-22) at the Men’s Pan American Cup NORCECA Final Six on Friday night at the Amando Nervo Auditorium in Tepic, Nayarit.

Cuba finished first place with 5-0 record and 22 points, they will face Puerto Rico in the semifinals who finished fourth. The other semifinal is a North American battle between Canada and the United States, second and third place respectively.

Mexico with a 1-4 record will play Dominican Republic for fifth place.

Mexico suffered the loss of one of its key players, opposite hitter Diego Gonzalez, early in the first set, who was injured falling while defending over the net.

Cuba beat Mexico on 36-25 advantage in attacks and a 7-1 margin in aces. Mexico led 7-6 in blocks and committed one less unforced error than Cuba (26-27).

Opposite hitter Jesus Herrera tallied 16 points for Cuba, on 13 kills, one block and two aces, joined by outside hitter Osniel Mergarejo with 14 points on 11 kills, one block and two aces.

Mexico’s top scorer was outside hitter Mauro Fuentes with 8 points all on kills.

Miguel Angel Lopez (18) of Cuba attacks against Mexico

Simon Robertlandy, Middle blocker of Cuba: “We are preparing for the competition in Korea, so this is good preparation, we are trying to perform the best way possible, limiting our errors, we still have deficiencies, we can improve more. Tomorrow against Puerto Rico we will try to reach the final and win the tournament, that will give us confidence and positivity to go to Korea, but we are taking one step at a time. It’s not about being the strongest team, but to have confidence and consistency while playing; I believe the United States and Canada are also strong, the final will be complicated for whoever reaches it”.

Pedro Rangel, Captain of Mexico: “We still have one more match. I am happy with our performance because we have faced powerful opponents, we are eager to play and try to win. The tournament has been a great learning experience for Worlds that is soon. We played one on one against Cuba; the sets were close. The youth in our team came out strong and they are on the right track”.

Nicolás Vives, Head Coach of Cuba: “This Cup has been good, the teams are well prepared; we are working our machinery slowly for the other important international events for us, the Challenger that’s coming soon and that could give us a ticket to the VNL. Mexico a well prepared, there’s a lot of adrenaline between us, we tried to stabilize our game, there are things to improve and what matters is the victory. We are prepared to face any opponent, tomorrow we go up against Puerto Rico and we are going to think about them for now”.