HAVANA, Cuba, October 7, 2022.- United States defeated Cuba in the second semifinal also extended to five sets, with the qualification to the 2023 World Championship, and will face Mexico this Saturday for the Men’s U21 Pan American title, supported by the fans at Ciudad Deportiva.
Just like it happened in the challenge before won by Mexico to Canada, team USA dominated the first two sets (25-21 y 25-14), but the hosts reacted supported by the crowd and took the following (20-25 y 24-26) to even the scores of the exciting contest, nevertheless the visitors controlled their emotions better, committed less errors and deserved the win 15-12.
Five players scored double figures, led by Zachary Rama with 16 points and followed by outside hitter Noah Roberts, opposite Shane Wetzel, and middles Nyerovwome Omene and Marc Smith, all with 11 points.
Cuban outside hitter Bryan Camino led all scorers with 24 tallies, joined by opposite Alejandro Miguel González who added 16, they were the only ones with double digits.
The Americans led in blocks (15-8) and serves (8-6) and committed fewer errors (33-37), while the hosts scored two kills more (51-49).
Andy Read, head coach of United States said “two good teams faced each other in a five-set battle. In the first two we played very well, they did it better the next two, but in the end we won. Qualifying to Worlds means a lot to these athletes that couldn’t play it last year because of covid-19. The crowd elevated the game level and the players responded to that. I loved the atmosphere of the Hall. Tomorrow we will go out to give our all, I hope we come out good”.
Captain Andrew Rowan gladly said “it was a great match, and the crowd was marvelous, I couldn’t feel better. Cuba is a physical team, they blocked and attacked big. My team is great, I love them and qualifying to Worlds is incredible, it will be a process, but it’s incredible”.
Jesús Cruz, head coach of Cuba, said “we started with many deficiencies and the United States took advantage of it, they won the first two, but despite the number of errors in serves we turned the match around and we evened the score fighting strong. In the end the number of games we lack to balance at difficult moments weighs, our opponent supported the pressure better than us, in their technical performance you can see they are players in better shape. We came out to battle, we were close, now tomorrow we must fight for bronze”.
Setter Jonathan Mc Kentochi said “we began with many deficiencies, but we recovered in the third set and in the tie-break, anyone could have won or lose, United States did it better, but we have no doubts nor with a bad flavor that we didn’t put up a fight to win. Our fans supported us all the time, even if we were behind, they never gave up, they lifted us, that’s a good crowd, we immensely appreciate it. Tomorrow we are going for bronze against Canada”.