Cuba gold and ticket to the U21 World Championship

Cuba won the gold and the only ticket available to the FIVB 2019 World Championship by beating the Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-20) in The Norceca Sub-21 Men's Volleyball Tournament.

In the most coherent match of the tournament, stable level as efficiency in the receipt and serve, the host improved the bronze that Cuba obtained in the last event in Gatineau 2016, where the United States and Canada led in that order, while for the Dominicans it was their second metal in the history of the category, since they also achieved silver in 1998.

The hosts surpassed their combative adversaries in attack (38-28) and service (9-3), were inferior in blocking (5-8), but committed only 12 errors to 23 by the visitors.

The opposite José Carlos Romero was the leading scorer with 16 and was followed by Julio Cárdenas with 12 points, while for the Dominicans Bayron Valdez with 15 again was the workhorse of his team.

Jesús Ángel Cruz, local coach, said that "there were no gaps, some bad times normal in this age, but we never left the control of the match, since we started we took it by the hand and maintained the intensity, which was not the case against in the initial set of the duel in the group A, as also with Canada in the semifinal, but tonight was the opposite because we knew that we played the classification to the World Championship".

"The current generation of the national team is very good and we hope this group added to it because it also has talent and as this becomes a reality with those who continue to ascend we can aspire to insert ourselves on the world level, to the people, to those who follow us who have confidence of the youth that there is in the Cuban School of Volleyball, that has had difficult moments, but it has never disappeared,” he said.

For his part the young Romero said that "the coach told us that for having beaten the Dominicans in the group we could not trust because they came with encouragement and desire to continue triumphing, to make everything strong, the game of us and so it went, and we feel happy because it is the result of so much training and sacrifices."

José Dante Mañón, Dominican coach expressed excited that "it is a silver that tastes gold, in history we had never defeated the United States in a Norceca, despite the size of my boys with theirs and Cuba, they have to double effort, and other details come together and go out, Bayron, the best attacker of the tournament, and today looked exhausted like the Americans against Canada.

"This was a tournament with many games and very short, only rest those who advance directly to the semifinals, and today fatigue has been the main factor against the performance of my team," he added.

Bayron, the captain of the “quisqueyanos”, explained that "it was a tournament of excellent level, we could not win the title but today we did what we could, we are a little tired, but that is not an excuse, although I wanted to win, I do not settle with nothing, however I cannot deny that I'm happy with this medal and I have to be proud of it ".

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Cuba closed the day successfully against Guatemala

Cuba utilized all its men against Guatemala to achieve a comfortable 3-0 win (25-17, 25-18, 25-13) at the close of the opening day of the Norceca Tournament Sub-21 (M) qualifier to the FIVB 2019 World Championship at the Sports City Coliseum, where no surprise occurred.

The local team outscored the Central American team in all departments with advantages of 41-13 in attacks, 11-4 in blocking and 7-1 in services in the shortest match of the day and in which the three sets lasted curiously 23 minutes each.

The wing spiker José M. Gutiérrez was the top scorer (11), escorted by also wing spiker Julio Cárdenas and the opposite José Romero, both with 10 units.

On the opponent side only scored three players, which plus the opposite Edgar Maldonado with only 7 points and two other players added 11, but the Guatemalans raised their total to 48 with the 30 that Cuba gave them due to unforced errors.

Jesus Cruz, host coach, explained that "for his debut the team moved well, in these young people there are factors that influence too much like pre-start and stress, and they knew how to cope, always respecting the opposite and playing at the level we know how to do. In the third we made more mistakes, but the 12 entered the field, which we proposed to be released and to beat rivals like the United States and Canada, tall, skilled, who play well and thus meet the goal of winning the gold".

Christian Thondike, local captain: Although we are not at the maximum the selection acted well, but we will raise our level. Guatemala did not really resist us, it does not have a lot of level, but we have to try to play hard because we have two rivals like the United States and Canada ahead of us that we must beat."

Luis F. Castañeda, Guatemalan technical director: It was a beautiful match, we came with a team with eight players under 19 and they need to play hard, we work well, Cuba is a power, a lot of height, on the contrary ours, but we did our job that was do a number of points and we did it, we are happy and we hope to do better for the remaining matches."

The setter Diego Andrés Ralón, captain of the Central American team, said that "it is a great opportunity to always play with a world power team and we have come to do what we know. The serve of Cuba is very powerful, very different from ours, but I feel that in the first two sets we managed to keep them making attack points, we blocked a couple of balls and that gives us expectations to try to qualify for the quarterfinals."

On Tuesday Group A features Dominican Republic-Guatemala (12:00) and Cuba-Barbados (18:00) and in Group B, Canada-Nicaragua (2:00 pm) and United States-Haiti (4:00 pm).

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Twelve teams to compete at Men’s Pan Am Cup in Mexico

The XIII Men’s Volleyball Pan American Cup will be held in the city of Cordova, State of Veracruz, Mexico from August 28 to September 2 with the participation of twelve countries.

Chile, Cuba, Guatemala and host Mexico will compete in Pool A, while Brazil, Dominican Republic, Canada and Colombia will play in Pool B and United States, Argentina, Peru and Puerto Rico are the teams in Pool C.

Argentina is the defending champions after winning two of its overall four silver medals in the previous editions.

The top five teams at the end of the XIII Cup, regardless its confederation, will be granted tickets to the 2019 Pan American Games to be held in Lima, Peru.

Six daily matches will be played at Cordova Arena, a modern facility built for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games that has two additional warm-up or training courts. The actions are set to begin at 11:00 a.m. (local time).

The top two ranked pool winner will advance directly to the semifinal round while the lowest ranked pool winner will join the second placed teams in the quarterfinals.

The United States are the winningest country for the competition with five crowns followed by Brazil with three. Cuba has won it twice while Mexico and Argentina has one title in their bags.

Mexico and the Dominican Republic have taken part in all the 12 editions of the event followed by Canada and United States with 11.

The members of the control committee will arrive on August 25 while referees and teams will do it on August 26. All delegations, control committee and referees will leave on September 3.

The year-by-year medalists is as follows:

Year    Gold    Silver  Bronze

2006     USA      MEX      CAN

2007     MEX      PUR      CUB

2008     USA      CAN      DOM

2009     USA      CAN      DOM

2010     USA      ARG      PUR

2011     BRA      USA      CAN

2012     USA      ARG      DOM

2013     BRA      MEX      ARG

2014     CUB      USA      ARG

2015     BRA      ARG      VEN

2016     CUB      ARG      CAN

2017     ARG      PUR      CUB

The calendar of matches for the preliminary phase is as follows:

August 28

11:00    United States v Peru

13:00    Chile v Cuba

15:00    Brazil v Dominican Republic

17: 00   Canada v Colombia

19:00    Argentina v Puerto Rico

21:00    Mexico v Guatemala

August 29

11:00    Cuba v Guatemala

13:00    Colombia v Brazil

15:00    Peru v Argentina

17: 00   Dominican Republic v Canada

19:00    Puerto Rico v United States

21:00    Mexico v Chile

August 30

11:00    Peru v Puerto Rico

13:00    Guatemala v Chile

15:00    Colombia v Dominican Republic

17: 00   Brazil v Canada

19:00    United States v Argentina

21:00    Mexico v Cuba

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Cuba won its third bronze medal

Cuba defeated Mexico 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 28-26) and won their third bronze medal in the Pan American Cup U23.

Cuba had Laura Suárez (15), Ailama Cese (15), Jessica Aguilera (12) and Moreno Thalia (11) as main attackers. In Mexico Melanie Parra, 15 years old, was the top scorer with 17 points, followed by Sofia Maldonado who finished with 15 points and Grecia Castro with 12.

The team coached by Tomás Fernández overcame Mexico with advantage in attack (55-46) and service (9-5), but both got 12 points in blocking. The unforced errors were even, 26 the winner and 24 the loser.

CUB MEX 9 2

Diaris Pérez, captain of Cuba: "This cup was a good experience for our next tournaments. Although we did not have much time to train as a team, we are happy to have won the bronze medal, and it motivates us to train harder to improve and keep adding medals for our country. "

Uxue Gareca, captain of Mexico: "We are not satisfied with the tournament because I feel we could have given more. In the most decisive moments we lacked determination and concentration to finish our plays. We are still calm because we gave our best effort and we took a great learning."

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Dominican Republic one step away from a fourth gold medal

The Dominican Republic earned the right to defend their title of U23 Pan American Cup champion, after overcoming Cuba 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-21) in the first semi-final match at the Manuel Bonilla Coliseum in Miraflores.

Brayelin Martinez was in charge of guiding her team to victory by scoring 24 points, followed by Gaila Gonzalez and Jineiry Martinez with 13 points each and Natalia Martinez who finished with 10 points. For Cuba, Diaris Pérez and Ailama Cese led with 17 and 13 points respectively.

Dominicana had the advantage in attacks (54-45), blocking (12-8) and service (3-2). The winning team committed 20 unforced errors and the loser had 28.

The Dominican Republic setter, Yokaty Pérez: "In the first set we gave in to the pressure of playing a semifinal, Cuba is a difficult opponent but from the second set we were leaving behind the pressure and taking our pace of play. Tomorrow we will deliver everything on the field to keep the gold."

The captain of Cuba, Gretell Moreno: "We are a young group and we still need to engage a little more as a team. This defeat leaves us as a lesson that we must work more in the definition of our attack and in the speed of our defense, they played many short balls and we did not know how to react. Although we will not fight for gold, the team has grown a lot; we are girls of different categories who started working together from this year on and as we advance in the competitions we will be more cohesive".

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Cuba defeated Chile to add second victory

Cuba claimed its second consecutive victory in the IV U23 Pan American Cup after defeating Chile 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-12) at the Manuel Bonilla Coliseum in Miraflores.

With the combination of the good setting by Grettel Moreno and the power of its attackers, Cuba got 5 key points that for now give them the first place of Group A. The team of Tomás Fernández demonstrated all its power with wide advantage in attack (45-21), blocking (9-1) and services (4-1).

Although Eduardo Guillaume's team managed to complicate their rival in the first set, it was not enough to stop the top scorers of the winning team Ailama Cese and Laura Suárez who got 12 points each, followed by the captain Diaris Pérez who registered 10 units like Moreno. On the Chile side, the opposite Maike Bertens got the maximum of 6 points.

Chile will fight for its first triumph in the IV U23 Pan American Cup on Thursday 16, when it plays at 13:00 against Guatemala. And at 7:00 pm Cuba will close the Group Stage facing the local team.

The setter of Cuba, Gretell Moreno: "The Chilean team was able to complicate us at times with the serve and use our blocking against, but with the instructions of our coach we knew how to regain our level and demonstrate that joy and claw that characterizes the teams of Cuba".

The captain of Chile, Amelia Carvajal: "I think the team did their best, we tried to defend each ball and tried to take advantage of their mistakes but it is not a team that we are used to playing and it cost us a lot. Tomorrow’s match is key for us to continue in competition and we will go out with everything to beat Guatemala. "

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Cuba qualifies to NORCECA U20 Semifinals

Cuba qualified to semifinals after beating Costa Rica 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) at the Women’s NORCECA U20 Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Cuba joins United States and Dominican Republic in Friday’s semifinals, waiting for either Mexico or Puerto Rico. Costa Rica will face Guatemala in classification 5/8 round.

Cuban players lacked their usual energy, with a dull performance and struggling to move ahead in scores as they committed a variety of unforced errors the entire game. Costa Rica maintained their calm, executing their game plan well, surprising Cuba but still not taking unnecessary risks.

Cuba finished with a huge 40-27 margin in kills and 9-4 in blocks. Costa Rica held 7-6 advantage in aces. Cuba benefited scoring on 20 opponent errors while allowing 25.

Middle blockers Yamisleydis Viltres and Daima Del Rio led Cuba scoring 12 points apiece, wing spiker Ailama Cese added 10 points and setter Thalia Moreno chipped in with 9 points. Middle blocker Susan Alpizar scored 9 points for Costa Rica.

Middle blocker Daima Del Río of Cuba: “We lack attitude, yes we are happy because we are one step further in reaching our objective. We committed too many unforced errors and we really hope to do better tomorrow”.

Regla Torres head coach of Cuba: “I am not satisfied with today’s performance, I did not like it. My team and every Cuban team have better rhythm, a higher level, powerful and with better attitudes. My assistant Marta and I, as former players, can’t inject the girls the desire to execute everything we’ve prepared and practiced. We hope they will understand what’s needed. We are in semifinals but we must play differently”.

Andrés López head coach of Costa Rica: “I am glad despite our loss, but as a group, going back to my Federation, I reached my objective. Today my starters in every set were the tallest players and that helped us against Cuba’s strength over the net. I think that Cuba came in tired from their previous matches that were really tough and we worked them well with our strong serves. Central America doesn’t have this level, so when the match was really close, we miss 3 points, we recover, we even the score and our competitive level is not enough, neither physically nor mentally speaking, there’s nothing left to do. We don’t know how to solve. We could compete better if we had better preparation matches”.

Middle Blocker Susan Alpizar of Costa Rica: “This is our first experience, and playing against the best in the world excites us, we feel motivated because the result was good. I was pressured because I was afraid to commit errors, but our motivation was high and that helped the team, and our attitude was the best”.

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Cuba to play Costa Rica in Quarterfinals

Cuba defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 (25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-12) to finish second in pool A and will face Costa Rica in the NORCECA U20 Women’s Championship quarterfinals on Thursday.

Cuba is set to face Costa Rica and Puerto Rico waits for the loser between Mexico and Dominican Republic to complete the quarterfinal round.

There was a rain delay in the first set, with Cuba recovering from a 13-16 deficit blocking Puerto Rico’s spikers. Cuba controlled set two on serves for a huge 12-6 advantage but Puerto Rico was inspired and extended the set to a thriller Cuban win. Puerto Rico rallied past Cuba 14- 9 winning set three 25-20. Finally Cuba decided to grab full control finishing in four. Cuba’s and Puerto Rico’s performance had many ups and downs.

Cuba dominated Puerto Rico with 47-27 huge advantage in kills and 13-9 margin in blocks. Puerto Rico owned the serves with 10-4 advantage. Cuba committed 35 unforced errors and Puerto Rico finished with 32.

Ailama Cese once again had a spectacular performance scoring 19 points on 16 kills and 3 blocks, to lead Cuba. Yamisleydis Viltres followed with 15 points on 8 kills, 4 blocks and 3 aces. Ariana Pagan was Puerto Rico’s leading scorer with 10 points.

Ailama Cese top scorer of Cuba: “It was important to win because our opponent in quarterfinals will be much easier to face. We are mentally and physically tired because of yesterday’s match against United States. We want to win every much from here on because our goal is to qualify to worlds. We were much more focused in set four because we didn’t want to wear out for our next performance by playing a fifth set”.

Regla Torres head coach of Cuba: “It was a bad performance, we came out short, we were over confident. I thing they thought – United States is tougher so if we faced them head to head, this would be a walk in the park- they are wrong, there is no small opponent. They need to learn that we have the obligation to face everyone with the same game level. We will continue playing the same; we need to change in form, in character, in attitude, in motivation. They must be motivated to perform”.

Paulina Pérez captain of Puerto Rico: “We had an excellent energy and attitude, we played well against Cuba, and we worked hard to win that third set. My team was confident, our serves were effective and we always scored when our passing was on the spot. I am very satisfied, despite the variations in our line-up”.

Rafael Olazagasti head coach of Puerto Rico: “I believe we could have won set two also, but that’s that. It’s not the same finish second than third in our pool because the crossover match will be tougher. Our lack of international experience is obvious; we aren’t able to win sets and that’s possible only when you play more. There is a great difference in our performance today compared to that against United States; playing every day improves our performance”.

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