2017 Pan American Cup – Men
- July 25-30, 2017
- Gatineau, Canada
Cuba def. Dominican Republic 3-1 (25-17, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22)
United States def. Mexico 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18)
Strong blocking efforts lifted Cuba and the United States to opening day victories at the Pan American Cup on Tuesday.
The Americans kicked off their quest to add to their tournament best five titles and first since 2012, with a four-set win over Mexico. The Cubans, which are fielding the youngest squad in the tournament, began their efforts with a four-set win over the Dominican Republic.
Cuba 3, Dominican Republic 1
Cuba put up 12 blocks and added five more kills in a four-set win over the Dominican Republic to open Pan Am Cup Pool A play on Tuesday.
Cuba won both battles at the net, outdoing the DR 49-44 in kills and 12-6 in blocks. Both teams managed six aces in the match. The Cubans did give up one extra point on errors, committing 30 to the Dominican’s 29.
“They played well,” Cuban coach Nicolas Vives said. “They are starting to regain their rhythm. We have a blend of U21 and older players. We have been working together for 15 days only and we need to work on communication and other aspects of the game. If we play good quality volleyball and stay focused, we can do well here.”
Miguel Angel Lopez scored a match-high 23 points for Cuba, with 19 kills, two blocks and two aces. Miguel David Gutierrez added 18 points, with 15 kills, two blocks and an ace, while captain Livan Osoria chipped in 10 points, with a team-best four blocks, four kills and two aces.
Henry Lopez led a trio of Dominican players with double-digit scoring efforts. Lopez tallied 16 points, with 11 kills, a team-leading four aces and a block. Elvis Contrera and Jose Caceres notched 14 points apiece, with Caceres scoring all on kills, while Contrera posted 12 kills and two blocks.
“For us the match was very difficult because we didn’t play since two years ago,” Dominican Republic coach Orlando Samuel said. “They need to play more and fit together as a team, but this is normal. The Cubans are young, but they have played in many tournaments and even so they made a lot of mistakes too. We have to look forward and get better every day, and try to qualify for World League.”
USA 3, Mexico 1
The Americans dominated Mexico on the block and from the service line in a four-set win. Team USA outdid its foes 12-3 in aces and 9-3 at the net. The Mexicans did managed two more kills in the match (46-44).
“It was great to get out there and get that first win,” USA captain Jonah Seif said. “I think there was a little bit of nerves before the first match of the tournament. I thought we came out and played well as a team. Mexico is an experienced group so we knew that they weren’t going to give up. We won the game with our serving, blocking and passing. It was a great first match and we hope to keep the momentum going.”
Jake Langlois tallied a match-high 18 points, including 15 kills, two blocks and an ace. Mitchell Stahl followed with 17 points, supplying team bests of five blocks and five aces to go with his seven kill effort.
Jorge Barajas and Ridl Garay managed 12 points apiece to lead Mexico. Barajas downed 12 kills, while Garay added 11 kills and an ace. Jose Martinez followed with nine points, including seven kills and two blocks.
“We have to work harder to control teams like this one (USA),” Mexican coach Jorge Azair said. “We could not control our reception and that’s where our chances slipped away. I am happy for the young players who had this opportunity like Perales, Garay and (Miguel) Chavez, who joined the senior team. I liked how they performed. We are just starting and we have other important games ahead of us. We just have to reset and prepare for the next game”.