United States Faces Canada for the U21 NORCECA Gold

NOGALES, Mexico, June 16, 2024.- The United States swept Cuba (25-20, 25-21, 25-16) and will face Canada on Sunday for the gold medal at the Men’s U21 NORCECA Continental Championship in Nogales, Mexico.

The U.S. has won the competition on three occasions, and this will be their sixth appearance in the championship match.

The defending champions, Cuba, have never won a bronze medal in the history of the event. They will play Puerto Rico for third place in the tournament.

United States outperformed Cuba with 40 points to 25 kills, 15 to 5 blocks, and 5 to 1 ace, but they handed out 26 points on errors compared to 15 from Cuba.  

Team captain and outside hitter Kelly Sean led the United States with a match-high of 15 points on 13 attacks and two blocks. He was joined by Cole Hartke and Sterling Foley with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Setter Tread Rosenthal scored a match-high of 5 blocks along with a match-high of 3 aces.

Daniel Martínez was Cuba’s leading scorer with 10 points on 7 attacks, 2 blocks, and one ace.

Sean Kelly USA

United States only trailed in the first set. In the second set, they quickly took a 13-8 lead, extending it to 21-11; they had difficulty closing the set after losing 5 set points (16-24) but eventually won 25-21 with a kill point from Cole Hartke. They dominated the third set without major difficulty.

John Hawks, head coach of United States said “We missed a lot of serves; if you’re thinking about missing serves, you’re going to miss serves. We just got go in tomorrow morning, we’re going to work out and talk about it a little bit, and just do a better job in managing situations; it happens, they are just young kids. We’ll do it better tomorrow night against Canada, a well coached team, they are doing a nice job, we just have to be sharp tomorrow night”.

Cuba’s head coach, Lian Sem Estrada, said, “Today, I think the boys lacked experience; there were some situations that weren’t complicated, but they didn’t know how to find the right solutions, and I believe that’s where our performance failed. We are still enthusiastic. We came with the goal of winning and earning a medal, and for this team to gain experience in pursuit of victory. My objectives remain the same; we are still in the fight.”