Cuba is golden at the Men’s NORCECA Championship

Cuba won the gold-medal match 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20) at the 2019 Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

Cuba led in attack points (46-34), and dominated from the service line (10-5), but the U.S. held its own in blocking with 11 points compared with Cuba’s seven.

Cuba’s was a team effort with Osniel Mergarejo and Miguel Angel Lopez leading scoring with 15 each, followed by Robertlandy Simon (including four aces) with 14 and Marlon Yant with 12.

TJ Defalco and Kyle Ensing had 12 points apiece for the United States.

Cuba had already locked up a spot in the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier next January as the winner of the recent Champions Cup, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The U.S. is already qualified for the 2020 Olympics as winner of its pool in the FIVB Qualification Tournament last month.

Cuba, head coach, Yosvany Muñoz Perez: “I’m very happy.  We came here to fight for first place, and that happened. We had very strong serves, the reception was very, very good and our attacking was a good performance.

Our players now will play professionally all over the world and we’ll get back together in December to prepare for the Olympic Qualification tournament. “

USA, head coach, John Hawks: “They served really well, as we expected, and I think offensively they were just a little sharper than they were the other night (when USA won in the pool match).  We didn’t pass as well as we did, we lost the serve/pass game….  Our guys are trying to prove ourselves to our senior teams, to be on the roster….

Leaving here with the silver medal is great, but we want gold.  We’re proud of the effort, but in the end we just weren’t sharp enough, so credit to Cuba, they played great.”

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Canada falters against a determined Cuban team

Canada started strong, but lost momentum after the first set to fall to Cuba 1-3 (25-17, 22-25, 22-25,19-25) in the first semifinal of the Men’s 2019 NORCECA Continental Championship today in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  

Canada led in blocking (12-10), but Cuba led in service points (9-7) and attacks (50-43).

Miguel Lopez let all scorers with 21 points for the winning team. He was followed by teammates Marlon Yant (15) and Osniel Mergarejo (13).

For Canada, Stephen Maar contributed 17 points. Nick Hoag and Sharone Vernon-Evans had 11 apiece.

Cuba will face the winner of USA vs Mexico in the gold medal match on Saturday. Canada will face the loser in the bronze game.

Cuba head coach Yosvany Muñoz Perez:

“I am happy because of this victory. Our team had a very high level performance today, especially in our serving, we had very strong service today. Congratulations to Canada, they are a good team.  Now we want to see who wins between Mexico and the USA and then we will study the video.  We want to be prepared for tomorrow.”

#13 Cuban middle blocker, Robertlandy Simon:

“When we win, we are happy. We are here and trying to win, but the most important thing is to get to the Olympics.  January is what will really count.

Today, our service was very good, and they had some difficulty with reception. We played well after the first set.”

Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag:

“We played a great first set, in all aspects, especially in our serving. In the second set, we completely lost momentum because we committed too many service errors early in the second set, and Cuba started playing better. … We haven’t played Cuba in a long time, so it was good to see what they can do.  We have to be ready for January. …It’s just a question of working on a few things, especially our serving flaws versus our block defense, and I think we will be ready. But for now, we will worry about tomorrow.”

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Cuba gets second victory at NORCECA Championship

Cuba defeated Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-15) and is now 2-0 at the 2019 Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

Osniel Lazaro Melgarejo was again Cuba’s top scorer at 17 points, including four aces.

Dominican captain Henry Omar Tapia also had 17 points, but for the losing side.

Cuba is aiming for first place in its pool to avoid quarterfinals and advance directly to the semifinals on Friday.

Cuba has already locked up a spot in the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier next January, but still has the goal to win this tournament.

Cuba head coach Yosvany Muñoz Perez: “Today I am very happy. The team played better than yesterday (vs Guatemala). At the beginning of the game we started off a bit cold, but after that we increased our performance. We are ready for the United States. We will prepare and discuss our plan to be ready for the match.”

Dominican Republic, head coach, Jose Alexander Gutierrez: “It was a difficult match for us because Cuba’s level is higher than us. But it is okay, much better than yesterday. For us it’s very good to improve after each game. This tournament is very complicated and is not easy. There are different levels here, USA, Canada and Cuba are much higher in skill and experience than Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala.”

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Young Guatemalan team attempts upset but loses to Cuba

Despite an exciting second-set challenge, Guatemala was not able to hold off the Cuban team today and the match score was 3-0 (25-13, 37-35, 25-14) to open the 2019 Men’s NORCECA Continental Championship at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

Osniel Lazaro Melgarejo was top scorer for Cuba with 14 points, and teammates Marlon Yang and Javier Concepción contributed 10 each. Wagner Chacon was top scorer for the losing side with 12 points.

Cuba has already locked up a spot in the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier next January, but still has the goal to win this tournament.

Cuba head coach Yosvany Muñoz Perez: “We didn’t play very well today. We made a lot of mistakes. Guatemala is a young team and with another team with more experience, I don’t know what could have happened. I am happy with the win, but we need to increase our level with the next match.”

Guatemala head coach, Reider Lucas Mora: “We were ready for a really strong game against Cuba. We fought really hard in the second set with six chances to win the set and our players left everything on the court. I am proud of them today…. We are going against another strong team tomorrow, but we will work hard to get better every day of the tournament.”

Tournament note: It was announced on Sunday that this is now a seven-team tournament after Suriname withdrew at the last minute.

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Sadaat leads Iran to three-set win over strong Cuba

Bardia Sadaat collected a remarkable 23 points to be Iran’s top scorer in the match.

“It was a very good game. Cuba was a very strong team physically. Having a good analysis of their performance, we managed to win three straight sets,” said Sadaat after the match, according to Iranian volleyball federation. He said that the team will try its best in the quarterfinals.

Iran, the reigning champion, will lock horns with Russia on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

“It was a hard game; Cuba was one of the strongest physical teams of the event. They managed to even defeat Brazil in the group stage. The team arrived at this level by playing hard matches. It was important where we would recover and we today succeeded in the first playoff. Tomorrow we will meet Russia and I’m happy that we played great today,” said the team’s coach Mohammad Vakili after the match.

The 2019 edition of FIVB Boy’s World Championship kicked off on August 21 in Tunis, Tunisia.

With two gold, two silver, and two bronze medals, Iran is the third most decorated team in the event after Brazil and Russia. Iranians won their first title in 2007 where they defeated China in the final. Iran has taken part in 11 out of 15 editions of the games so far managing to advance to the semifinal in eight ones.

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Russia bans women's volleyball coach for two matches over slant-eyed gesture after South Korea victory

Russia has banned its women's volleyball head coach Sergio Busato for two matches after he made a slant-eyed racist gesture at the end of a match against South Korea earlier this month in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

He could, however, still face further action from the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), who are reviewing the incident which took place following Russia's 3-2 victory in Kaliningrad on August 4.

The win in the Women's Volleyball Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament secured Russia a place at Tokyo 2020.

The Korea Volleyball Association (KVA) made a formal complaint to the FIVB about the racist gesture.

The Volleyball Federation of Russia (RVF) subsequently apologised to the KVA.

The RVF hope that by suspending the 53-year-old Italian-born Busato it will ensure the FIVB take no further action, although their move may yet prove to be unsuccessful.

"The FIVB can confirm it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Mr Sergio Busato, but at this time no decision has been made," an FIVB spokeswoman told insidethegames.

"Until a final decision has been reached, there will be no further comment."

A week after the incident involving Busato, Argentina's men's volleyball team were also accused of "inappropriate and culturally insensitive" behaviour after several players made slant-eyed gestures following their victory over China at the Men's FIVB Olympic qualification tournament in Ningbo which earned them a place at Tokyo 2020.

In June, Poland's Michal Kubiak was suspended for six matches by the FIVB after making a series of controversial statements about Iran before the two countries played each other in the FIVB Volleyball Men's Nations League.

Among his comments, he claimed Iranians were "malicious and damned people".

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They've performed at home and excelled regionally, but volleyball's new generation of under-19-year-olds are now making their debut before a world audience over the next couple of weeks, as the 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship gets underway tomorrow in the Tunisian capital - though there's a handful of players that do have some impressive previous exposure to world-level volleyball.

Iran are here to defend the title they won two years ago in Bahrain, when they beat Russia 3-1 in the final at Riffa. That was Iran's second title in the history of the competition, after their success in 2007 when they edged China 3-2 in an all-Asia affair in Tijuana.

The Asian powerhouse will also be looking at replicating the triumph of their men's U21 team last month, when they beat Italy 3-2 in the final of that age-group World Championship, also in Bahrain.

Indeed, as many as four players from that squad from last month's U21s are here in Tunis to try and get their personal second world championship gold of the season. This includes both starting middle blockers, Amir Hossein Toukhteh and Mehran Feyz, alongside Mahdi Jelveh, yet another middle blocker, and opposite Bardia Saadat.

Amir Hossein Toukhteh here celebrating last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship is ready to lead Iran to new glory at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday in Tunis.

The three middle blockers, despite their young age, could be considered 'veterans', amongst the debutantes of this World Championship: At 17, they had all already been part the Iran squad that won the 2017 U19 gold in Riffa.

Brazil are the only team in the history of the competition to have competed in all 15 previous editions and they lead the medals table with six gold and one silver. But the South American powerhouse have not been on the podium in 14 years, since the last time the competition was held in Africa, in 2005 in Algiers, when they ended up with their sole silver after losing in five sets to Russia in the final.

Brazil themselves are fielding a couple of players who were in at the U21 Worlds last month in Bahrain. Setter Gustavo Andre, who celebrated his 17th birthday earlier this month, will be captaining Brazil here in Tunis, alongside outside hitter Nathan Mota. Both were on the South American squad that beat Russia in the bronze medal match at the 2019 U21 Worlds.

Gustavo Andre here in action last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship is now in Tunis to guide Brazil at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday.

Cuba, who were 10th in Bahrain last month, have the most players carrying over to the younger squad in Tunis - as many as six, including setters Christian Thondike and Adrian Chirino, outside hitters Jose Gutierrez and Victor Andreu, middle blocker Luis Allen and libero Ricardo Gomez.

Cuba's Victor Andreu and Luis Allen on the block against Argentina last month in Bahrain at the U21 World Championship. Both return to star at the U19 World Championship starting Wednesday in Tunis.

The 2019 FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship involves a total of 20 teams representing all five continental confederations. Amongst the top favourites and other old hands, there's two contries making their debut in the competition - Colombia and Nigeria.

The 20 teams are divided into four pools of five for the first phase of the competition. The top two of each pool will advance to play for positions 1-8 in a knockout phase, with the rest carrying on until the very end for classification matches. 
All matches will be played in two venues, both in Tunis. Pool A (Chinese Taipei, Belarus, Cuba, Brazil, Tunisia) and Pool B (Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, Colombia, Iran) are in El Menzah; Pool C (Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Japan) and Pool D (Dominican Republic, USA, Korea, Nigeria, Russia) are at Rades.

The so-called 'youth veterans' will surely form the foundations of their squads as they seek to excel in Tunis, but it's going to be an exciting two weeks coming up, to watch in action for the first time all the fresh talent that's bound to keep the volleyball world thrilled for the next decade or more.

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Lausanne, Switzerland, August 11, 2019 – Men's Tokyo Volleyball Qualification action was completed on Sunday with twelve matches played across six pools. The top team in each pool earned a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games including Brazil (Pool A), USA (Pool B), Italy (Pool C), Poland (Pool D), Russia (Pool E) and Argentina (Pool F).

Schedule, results and pool standings:

Pool A (Varna, Bulgaria)

Matches on Friday:

Brazil v Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-19)
Bulgaria v Egypt 3-1 (25-11, 33-31, 19-25, 25-19)
Matches on Saturday:
Brazil v Egypt 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-14)

Bulgaria v Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-12)
Matches on Sunday:
Egypt v Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-17, 31-29, 25-17)
Brazil v Bulgaria 3-2 (23-25, 19-25, 32-30, 25-16, 15-11)

Team qualified from Pool A: Brazil

Pool B (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Matches on Friday:
Netherlands v Korea 3-2 (23-25, 25-27, 26-24, 25-20, 15-12)

USA v Belgium 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18)
Matches on Saturday:
Netherlands v Belgium 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-20)

USA v Korea 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-16)
Matches on Sunday:
USA v Netherlands 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21)

Belgium v Korea 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 26-24)

Team qualified from Pool B: USA

Pool C (Bari, Italy)

Matches on Friday:

Serbia v Australia 3-1 (26-28, 25-19, 25-19, 32-30)
Italy v Cameroon 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-16)
Matches on Saturday:
Serbia v Cameroon 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-13)

Italy v Australia 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-17, 15-13)
Matches on Sunday:
Australia v Cameroon 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-18)

Italy v Serbia 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-19)

Team qualified from Pool C: Italy

Pool D (Gdansk, Poland)

Matches on Friday:

Poland v Tunisia 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-19)
France v Slovenia 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-23)
Matches on Saturday:
Poland v France 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-20)

Slovenia v Tunisia 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 26-24)
Matches on Sunday:
France v Tunisia 3-1 (25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22)

Poland v Slovenia 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21)

Team qualified from Pool D: Poland

Pool E (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Matches on Friday:

Iran v Cuba 3-2 (23-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-10)
Russia v Mexico 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-17)
Matches on Saturday:
Iran v Mexico 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 27-25)

Russia v Cuba 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 27-25)
Matches on Sunday:
Cuba v Mexico 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-22)

Russia v Iran 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23)

Team qualified from Pool E: Russia

Pool F (Ningbo, China)

Matches on Friday:

China v Finland 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23)
Argentina v Canada 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 27-25, 25-23)
Matches on Saturday:
Argentina-Finland 3-1 (25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 26-24)

Canada v China 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15)
Matches on Sunday:

Canada v Finland 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-20)
Argentina v China 3-2 (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 15-9)

Team qualified from Pool F: Argentina

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