Dominicans win NORCECA Title in five thrilling sets to USA

Dominican Republic won NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship to United States in five thrilling sets 3-2 (25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9) on Sunday night at Roberto Clemente Coliseum of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dominican Republic finishes the tournament with 4-1 record serving United States their only loss of the tournament 4-1; Dominicans have lost to the U.S. in the preliminary round. This is the fourth time Dominicans and the U.S. battle for the NORCECA title and the first time Dominicans come out on top winning their second gold medal in the history of the event.

Dominicans offense and defense over the net, as well as receiving skills were solid, from the beginning. Outside hitter Brayelin Martinez was unstoppable but the U.S. reaction did not come light, bouncing back 0-2 for the overtime on a formidable display of speed.  

Dominican Republic led 11-9 in blocks and allowed 19 points on errors against 29; the U.S. held a 69-58 advantage in kills and a 4-2 margin in aces.

Dominicans leading scorers were Brayelin Martinez with 20 points on 20 kills and 4 blocks, followed by Bethania De La Cruz with 19 points and Lisvel Eve added 11 points. Michelle Barsch-Hackley of USA scored a match-high of 26 points, Kelsey Robinson and Andrea Drews tallied 13 and 12 points accordingly.

Prisilla Rivera, captain of Dominican Republic: “It has been a rough year for us, many events, lots of work, lots of suffering and finishing this way is the icing on top, I am very proud of my team. We could have finished 3-0 but United States is one of the best teams in the world and wasn’t going to give up easily. Our best skill was team effort; we had a moment of distraction when they started to pressure with serves”.

Marcos Kwiek, Head Coach of Dominican Republic: “Today we faced an elite team, it wasn’t easy. We lack money, we lack structure, among other things, but we have big hearts. My players battled a lot and it was a spectacular way to close the year; they worked a lot, it was a difficult year and we are happy that none of the players were injured, it’s a blessing”.

Karch Kiraly, Head Coach of United States: “Well played match from Dominican Republic, congratulations to them”.

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Cuba finishes pool-round defeating Costa Rica

Cuba defeated Costa Rica 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-16) to finish pool A in third place and moving into quarterfinals at the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Cuba with 1-2 record moved into quarterfinals to face the loser between United States and Dominican Republic; Costa Rica (0-3) will play position matches.

The top three ranked will play the NORCECA final four Olympic qualifier to be held in January; except USA that has a ticket to Tokyo 2020, Dominican Republic already qualified to the final four and Cuba who isn’t taking part of the Olympic cycle.

Cuba overpowered Costa Rica 40-27 in kills; they also dominated 10-3 in blocks and 9-4 in aces. Cuba allowed 14 points on errors against 16.

Cuba’s outside hitter Claudia Tarin scored a match-high of 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace, accompanied by middle blocker Melanies Arcia who topped with 4 blocks of her 11 points. Outside hitters Tamara Espinoza and Maria Sofia Arroyo led Costa Rica with 10 and 9 points all on kills.

Claudia Tarin, top scorer of Cuba: “The team executed well, because of our two losses we needed to win this one to advance to quarterfinals. Today we were more motivated and we stabilized our serves which we had difficulties in our previous matches. We will give our best for what’s left of the tournament”.

Tamara Espinoza, top scorer of Costa Rica: “Today we didn’t fail that much in serves, but we had difficulties scoring; our defense could have been better. Obviously we need to improve and learn because this isn’t our category. This is an excellent opportunity to learn; it motivates us to be more dominant in Central America if we learn to control all the elements of the game”.

Tomás Fernández Arteaga, Head Coach of Cuba: “We got the win, but we still can’t read the blocking, our defense is not well positioned because the block can’t execute. It’s hard for us to get back the ball, everything the opponent throws in the back row falls. Today our U20 team finished the match, everyone had a chance to play and tomorrow I will do the same regardless who we face; we have to prepare for the final crossover that might be against Mexico”.

José Miguel Briceño, Head Coach of Costa Rica: “My players are looser, you can see their improvement from the first match to this one, they are more comfortable and you can see a group. Cuba dominated us with serves in the second set, we weren’t able to solve despite our reception was perfect on occasions, we couldn’t respond to Cuba’s tall blocks”.

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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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Cuba serves and blocks to defeat USA

The U.S. Men put up a fight, but Cuba was too tough and took a 25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14 in a NORCECA Champions Cup match at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

The U.S. Men (1-1) will play Canada (0-2) in the round-robin finale on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. Cuba (2-0) will play Puerto Rico (1-1) at 1 p.m. MT. Matches are being shown live at https://go.usav.org/USAVwatch.

Cuba and the U.S. Men tied in attacks (47-47). Cuba led in blocks (11-6) and aces (10-6). Cuba scored 29 points on U.S. errors and committed 22.

Osniel Mergarejo and Robertlandy Simon led Cuba with 16 points each. Mergarejo had 11 attacks, three blocks and two aces. Simon finished with 10 kills, a match-high five blocks and one ace.

Michael Wexter and Cody Kessel led the United States with 13 points each.

Cuba coach Nicolas Vives: “The Americans are an excellent team. I liked how they played. I like the tactics of the U.S. The most important thing is that we won.”

USA coach Matt Werle: “We looked a little intimidated. We didn’t play with the personality that we had for the last eight or nine days. It seemed like they took us away from that and that’s something I’m pretty disappointed about. When we put some service pressure on them, we got ourselves in nice situations. Our transition numbers were not what they should have been, and that’s something that we obviously would have needed. Cuba’s a team that likes to end points quickly, and we allowed them to do that. It was tough to withstand. They’re a very good, strong and physical, and they’re good from the service line. They were better than us tonight.”

USA player Michael Wexter: “They played a lot better than they did last night against Canada. They were serving absolute rockets at us. They didn’t miss a lot, which is crazy because they were ripping the ball like 75 mph or more. Toward the end of the match, they started blocking a lot of balls that were falling earlier in the match against them. They started to tighten little things up that we were getting through earlier in the match.”

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Cuba opens with thrilling victory

Canada almost spoiled Robertlandy Simon’s return to competition with the Cuban National Team, but Cuba pulled off the five-set (25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-11) victory at the NORCECA Champions Cup at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

Canada led Cuba in attacks (54-51) and blocks (13-7). But Cuba’s serving was dominant and it led in aces (9-2). Cuba also scored 39 points off Canada’s errors while committing 28.

Canada’s Blake Scheerhoorn led all scorers with 17 points on 15 attacks and two blocks. Cuba’s Marlon Yang led his team with 15 points on 12 attacks and three aces.

Simon, who left the Cuban National Team to play professionally, scored 10 points on eight attacks and two blocks.

Cuba Captain Livan Osoria: “We had a little bit of a slow start, but at the end of the day, we got it. We’re excited to be here.”

Cuba Coach Nicolas Vives: “Canada is a great team, but my guys played great and did everything they could. I’m proud of them.”

On the fifth set

“’They’re really young players and needed a little bit of help, but they were ready to go come the end of the game. They knew what they were doing at that point. I trust them and let them know I trust them. That’s a big part of it.”

Canada Captain Danny Demyanenko: “It took a little bit of time for both teams to get going. The first couple sets were one team having a really good set while the other one struggled, and then it would flip flop. Toward the end down the stretch, it was getting really tight, the fourth and the fifth sets were very tight. Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end of that battle to a very good Cuban team. We’re excited that we battled this hard and look forward to what else is going to come in this tournament.”

Canada Coach Ryan Marsden: “It’s obviously disappointing. Our guys battled as hard as they could. When it looked like we were down and out in game four, they came from nowhere. Our biggest Achilles heel today was just missing serves. Our biggest strength was our block defense. When we miss our serve, we’re not able to show that on a consistent basis. I’m really, really, really proud of our guys.”

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