Mexico shocks Canada 3-2 at Pan American Cup

GATINEAU, August 9, 2022- Mexico overcame a 0-2 deficit to shock hosts Canada 3-2 (23-25, 13-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 15-11) in Pool B action of the 15th Pan American Cup at the Slush Puppy in Gatineau, Quebec.

Mexico, who is fielding their best team in preparation for the World Championships, started out well, leading 8-6 and 16-12 at the technical time-outs. But Canada bounced back and tied the set at 18 points. With the scored at 23 points, an attack out of bounds by the opponent and a solo block by Mahias Elser paid the way for Canada to win 25-23.

Canada kept the momentum on court and built a sizable 16-11 lead in the second set. Two consecutive aces by Brodie Hofer put Canada in a comfortable position as they secured a comfortable 25-13 victory.

Mexico rebounded and started strong in the third set 5-0. Canada responded and moved to the front 16-15 at the second time-out. The score remained even, but captain Christian Aranda unleashed three consecutive aces to win 25-21.

Canada seemed destined to finish the match in four sets as they led 8-4 and 16-12 at the two technical timeouts. Mexico shortened the deficit and managed to tie at 20 points. A solid attack and an ace by Josue Lopez helped them prevail 25-23 to force a tie-break.

Mexico maintained their inspiration and built an early 5-2 lead, but Canada responded and tied the game at seven. With the scored even at 10, solid attacks by Mauro Fuentes, Diego Gonzalez and a block by Jonathan Martinez and Josue Lopez put Mexico 14-11 ahead and they finally sealed the match victory 15-11 after two hours and ten minutes of play.

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Team Mexico after winning their match over Canada

Josue Lopez led the Mexican offense with 16 points, followed by Diego Gonzalez (12) and Mauro Fuentes (12). Brodie Hofer was Canada’s top scorer with 23 points. Mathias Elser (14) and Cole Ketrzynski (10) were also in double digits.

Canada plays Puerto Rico and Mexico faces Brazil Wednesday in Pool B.   

Cuba opens Pan American Cup title defense with 3-0 victory over Chile

GATINEAU, August 9, 2022- Cuba opened its title defense campaign with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20 and 28-26) victory over Chile in Pool A action of the 15th Pan American Cup at the Slush Puppy Centre in Gatineau, Canada.

Coming from their recent victory at the Challenger Cup and qualification to the 2023 Volleyball Nations League, Cuba started out strongly, leading 8-4 at the first technical time-out and 16-10 in the second one. The Cuban kept their solid display on court and went on to win 25-17.

At the second set, Dusan Bonacic’s attacks and ace gave the South American team some momentum and led 14-12, but Miguel David Gutierrez’s ace and Marlon Yant’s spike switched the score 16-14 in Cuba’s favour. Chile never gave up and Bonacic put his squad back 20-21, but an ace by captain Miguel Angel Lopez and two solid attacks by Yant and Lopez secured the set 25-20 for the defending champions.

The third set stayed more even with Cuba’s 8-7 advantage at the first time-out, but Chile bounced back and regained the lead 15-12, with solid spikes from brothers Vicente and Tomas Parraguirre, and Bonacic. Never out of contention, Cuba tied at 23 with a 2-man block by Livan Osoria and Marlon Yant. After four match points, Julio Cesar Cardenas’ strong serve sealed the 28-26 victory and the match win.

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Gutierrez (CUB) attacking Team CHI double block

Marlon Yant led the Cuban offense with 15 points, followed by Gutierrez (14) and Osoria (13). Vicente Parraguirre was the main figure for Chile with 17 points, supported by Bonacic (13).

Chile and Cuba play in Pool A together with the United States and the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico tops Brazil 3-1 at Pan American Cup

GATINEAU, August 9, 2022- Puerto Rico opened Pool B action of the Pan American Cup with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 21-25 and 27-25) over Brazil in two hours at the Slush Puppy Centre in Gatineau, Canada.

The South American team, made up of players aged 18-19, started out ahead 8-6 and continued to lead 16-15. The Puerto Rican defense, combined with Pedro Nieves and Klistan Lawrence’s spikes, proved to be crucial to revert the score 23-20, before Pedro Molina sealed the win 25-21 in the opening set.

In the second set, the most experienced Caribbean squad continued its solid performance and built an early 6-2 lead. With Pedro Molina’s two consecutive aces and smart plays by setter Arturo Iglesias, Puerto Rico increased in front 16-9 and reached an insurmountable 20-11 score, before they went on to win 25-18.

In the third set, both teams traded points, but Brazil took the lead briefly 12-11 and 19-18. Witalio de Sousa’s ace opened a 2-point lead (22-20) and went on to win 25-21.

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Del Valle (PUR) receives the ball

The young South American squad kept its momentum and kept the fourth set within reach 14-16. Puerto Rico stayed on top. Its defense and offense proved crucial to keep Brazil at bay 23-19. But Brazil bounced back to tie 25-25. Jonathan Rodriguez and Pelegrin Vargas’ spikes paid the way for the 27-25 set and match victory.

Klistan Lawerence led the winners’ offense with 18 points, followed by Pedro Molina (16) and Jonathan Rodriguez (15). Samuel Carazzai de Morais produced 22 points for Brazil and was supported by captain Arthur Bento with 13.

Puerto Rico and Brazil play in Pool B together with Canada and Mexico.

USA blanks the Dominican Republic to open Pan American Cup 

The United States beat the Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-23) to open the 15th Pan American Cup, held at the Slush Puppie Sports Centre in Gatineau, Canada. 

Despite a strong start by the Caribbean squad, the USA bounced back and tied the opening set at 11 and reached the second technical time-out with a narrow 16-14 lead. Solid attacks by Jake Hanes, Merrick McHenry and Brett Wildman and Patrick Gasman secured the first set 25-23. 

The USA remained on top in the second set, leading 8-6 and 16-14. But the Dominican Republic kept fighting and Henry Tapia led them to a 23-22 lead, but the USA bounced back with an effective block and a strong attack by Jake Hanes secured win 25-23. 

The third set appeared to go one way with the USA taking a healthy 7-1 lead and 16-12 at the second time-out. The Dominican Republic never gave up and with solid clocks managed to tie the set at 21. However, Jake Hanes’ attacks proved to be lethal and paved the way for another identical 25-23 set win and match victory. 

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Brett Wildman (USA) attacks team DOM double block

Hanes led the winners’ performance with 20 points, followed by Gasman (11). Captain Henry Tapia was the main contributor from the Dominican Republic with 16 points. 

Both teams play in Pool A with Chile and Cuba as the other contenders 

Head coaches speak ahead of 15th Pan Am Cup in Gatineau

Group A: Nicolas Vives, Head Coach of Cuba We just returned from winning the World Challenge in Korea and qualifying to the VNL next year. We want to perform well here while also testing new players and resting some of our key men after a busy campaign and in preparation for the World Championships.

The team is almost the same as the one who won this tournament in 2019, with the addition of Robertlandy Simon and Michael Sanchez. I started coaching this generation of players in 2017 and they are progressing well, from the U19 to the U23 World Championships and their involvement in international leagues. They have matured technically and tactically and are now in a better place to solve crucial moments in a game. This generation should peak in 2024 and stay with the world’s best and the VNL is a great step forward.

Guy Bradbury, President of the NORCECA Refereeing Commission, at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Andy Read, Head Coach of USA

The team is a blend of guys that we had at the Pan Am Final 6 in Mexico and some guys that are coming back from VNL. It is a very good blend. Our talent level and physically are better that what it was in Mexico. We look forward to a better finish than Mexico (bronze).

The team preparing for the World Championships is staying in Anaheim, so our guys are here to gain more experience.

This tournament is the most important ever in the history of the Pan Am Cup. It has world rankings points involved for Olympic qualification, which is everything.

Team USA at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Jorge Gutierrez, Head Coach of the Dominican Republic

It is important to be here to gain experience. We have our U21 team, they are young, and we want to improve our level of play. The players here just want to play and show the world they can play at this level.

Daniel Nejamkin, Head Coach of Chile

Our goal here is make the podium, plain and simple. We think we can do it. So we are going to play for that.

The Pan American Cup is better for us than training because we have to play against a lot of teams that are ranked similar or better than us. In South America, Brazil and Argentina play at a higher level, and we always play against Colombia and Venezuela. So here, we have the opportunity to play against international teams that can really test us.”

Group B

Jorge Azair, coach of Mexico

We have prepared well since the start of the year. It’s a young team that has been progressing well and preparing for the World Championships. We have lost players through injury and conflicts with school calendars. We secured our main goals so far by qualifying to the 2023 Pan Am Games and the World Championships.

We are here to obtain valuable world ranking points for future events such as the Olympic qualifiers for 2024.

Oswald Antonetti, coach of Puerto Rico

This is our third tournament this summer. We have been adding elements and some key players are returning here to join the squad preparing for the World Championships. We treat this tournament with the same rigour as the World Championships.

We have a young team who is creating an identity. Some of these players won the Norceca championship last year. We have been working on creating a sense of sacrifice, courage, discipline and identity that we need so much as an Island.

We have 90% of the players here who will make the squad for the World Championships. For us, the World Championships starts with this Cup. We train well and we are able to execute the modern form of playing volleyball. We are integrating the right elements into our game. We can’t accelerate this process.

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Guilherme Pinto, Head Coach of Brazil:

We want to give the guys some good experience. We are very glad and happy to be playing at a high-level competition like this. This experience will help them achieve their future goals and the teams’ goals moving forward.

They are a young team, so this is a development opportunity for the guys, especially mental development. Representing Brazil, our country, is something to be very proud of, so we hope we will continue to play with pride throughout the tournament.

Fun Facts:

Brazil #19 is son of Adriana Bento, Canadian beach volleyball coach.  He is Canadian dual citizen.

They’ve already qualified for the Pan Am Games through Jr Pan Am games, this tournament is therefore important for FIVB ranking for the Olympics and VNL qualifications.

Brazil and NORCECA representatives at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Dan Lewis, Head Coach of Canada

We have a pretty experienced group, there’s a lot of guys that train here that have the potential to go to World Championships so I feel that we should be trying to win our pool, as the first step. Then of course I would like the guys to be in the medals. So you can expect that we are fighting for gold.

The guys are excited first not having to listen to me yell at them in training, and to actually play a game. But of course, obviously competing. There are so many great countries here, it’s not just the top hemisphere, but the southern hemisphere as well with a bunch of dynamic players. We hardly ever see Chile; Brazil is younger, but they are very highly skilled and they’re big so it’s super fun to play a group like that. Cuba’s A team just qualified for VNL, are now near the top 10 best teams in the world probably, with maybe arguably one of the best serving teams in the world. So I think opportunity to compete first for the guys, and then to actually be competing against some of the best talent in the world, is really good for them.”

A quick thank you, we know it takes a lot of organization and everyone is working so hard to host an event this size. We’re very excited about the new gym too and what we can get going there. And then to the volunteers, we know they come and give a lot of their time, so we thank them, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Alan Ahac, Volleyball Canada’s Director, Indoor International Events, at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting