2017 Pan American Cup – Men
Gold Medal match
Argentina def. Puerto Rico 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 25-20)
Bronze Medal match
Cuba def. Canada 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23)
After winning 14 straight sets, Argentina finally lost one in the gold medal match of the Pan American Cup, but bounced back to win in four sets. The Argentines went 5-0 at the tournament to take their first ever gold medal after finishing second each of the last two years and four times over all (2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016).
The Argentines have finished on the podium each of the last six years.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico matched its best ever Pan Am Cup finish with the silver medal. The team also finished second in 2007, and earned the bronze in 2010.
Defending champions Cuba had to settle for the bronze medal, after being upset by the Puerto Ricans in the semifinals. Canada, which won bronze in 2016, just missed earning their fourth podium finish.
Argentina 3, Puerto Rico 1
Argentina held the advantage in every statistical category in a four-set win over Puerto Rico to secure its first ever Pan Am Cup title.
The Argentines led 50-46 in kills, 7-5 in blocks, 6-5 in aces and 35-30 in points off errors.
“I am happy,” Argentine coach Julio Velasco said. “We lost a set. The team was tired. Puerto Rico was very motivated and more aggressive. We had to get back into the game progressively. I am happy with how our block-defense system did, the ability to play youngsters like Bruno Lima and how Martin Ramos played as opposite. This is the base team for the South American Championships.”
A balanced attack aided Argentina in the win as four players posted double digit scoring efforts. Martin Ramos led the way with 13 points, including 10 kills and two aces. Nicolas Bruno (11), Sebastian Sole (11) and Pablo Crer (10) followed. Crer downed nine kills, while Sole managed a team-best two blocks.
“As we saw on the court and as results show, we played a good tournament,” Bruno said. “We only lost one set in the final. We came her to win and improve on some aspects in preparation for the American Championships starting in a few days. This is a great boost. This team has played together for a while, including the World League and this is reflected on the court.”
Maurice Torres put up a match-high 22 points, with 19 kills and three aces, to lead Puerto Rico. Pablo Guzman added 12 points, with 10 kills, a block and an ace.
“I am really happy with our performance throughout the tournament,” Puerto Rican coach Ramon Hernandez said. “We improved as a team and we played better with every single match. I am really pleased – this is only our third medal ever in the Pan Am Cup and this is our first tournament of the year. So to be able to have a silver medal performance, I am excited about the future of this team. We have to recover from this tournament and prepare for the NORCECA Championship in the US.”
Cuba 3, Canada 1
Miguel Angel Lopez scored 21 points and put down 20 kills, to lead Cuba to the bronze medal.
Lopez had help from three other double-digit scorers: Miguel David Gutierrez (16), Javier Ernesto Jiminez (10) and Livan Osoria (10). Gutierrez put down 12 kills and added a team-best three aces.
The quartet lifted Cuba to a 57-55 advantage in kills, a 6-4 lead in aces as well as six blocks. Canada also gave Cuba 28 points on errors, while the Cubans committed 22 miscues.
“The team performed well,” Lopez said. “We recovered psychologically from the defeat vs. Puerto Rico and entered this match with a different mindset. This match was as important as yesterday’s. We wanted a better result overall, but we fulfilled our goal. It’s been an unforgettable experience for many of us competing in our first senior tournament. Many of us will play in the U23 World Championships in two weeks.”
For its part, Canada also registered six blocks in the match, with three by top scorer Ryan Sclater. The outside hitter scored a match-high 25 points, including 21 kills. Only Blake Scheerhoorn joined him in double figures with 12 kills.
“It was a tough game for me, I felt that things were not going well at the start, but then it was a process of trying to build back in,” Sclater said. “It was sweet though because our team is really tight and does a good job of supporting each other. So it was really helpful forme to have them build me up and get back into the game. It was tough down the stretch because they are a great team, but we played some good volleyball at times.”