Gutierrez Scores 30 as Cuba Edges USA in Five, Earns Semifinal Berth

  0 Wendy Mayer | July 27th, 2017 | International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, U.S. Men's National Team

2017 Pan American Cup – Men

Pool A

Dominican Republic def. Mexico 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-17, 25-18)
Cuba def. United States 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11)

Cuba edged the USA in five sets to go 3-0 in Pool A and claim a free pass into the Pan Am Cup semifinals on Saturday, while the Dominican Republic grabbed the second place spot in the group with a four-set victory over Mexico.

The Dominican Republic will take on the third place team from Pool B (Canada) in Friday’s quarterfinals, while the USA will face second place Puerto Rico.


Dominican Republic 3, Mexico 1
The Dominican Republic overcame an 8-6 deficit in blocks and 6-5 deficit in aces for a four-set win over Mexico to clinch

The Dominicans scored nine more points on kills (53-44) and three on errors (28-25) to best the Mexicans.

“In the second set, we didn’t play well at all – I really didn’t like how my players were communicating with each other,” Dominican Republic coach Orlando Samuel Blackwood said. “But, in the end, they came back and managed to play well at certain times in the match. I am happy for the win today.”

Pedro Garcia racked up a match-high 21 points, including 18 kills, two aces and a block to pace the DR. Elvis Contrera (16) and captain Wilfrido Hernandez (15) followed. Contrera put down 14 kills and added two aces, while Hernandez chipped in 12 kills and a team-best three blocks.

Ridl Garay and Gonzalo Ruiz scored 11 points apiece to lead the Mexican attack. Garay put away 11 kills, while Ruiz added nine kills, a block and an ace. Jorge Barajas notched nine points, all on kills. Miguel Chavez followed with eight points, including a team leading three blocks and two aces.

“Dominican Republic is a classic game with NORCECA,” Mexican coach Jorge Azair said. “The game was really intense. My players played better than yesterday, but I am still disappointed we don’t advance to the next round. We need to work on our blocks and services essentially to qualify for World Championships. Half of the team is pretty young so it’ll be a long process. This tournament is a great experience for them.”


Cuba 3, USA 2
Four points separated the Cubans and Americans in a back and forth five-set affair on Thursday.

Cuba won the match 108-104 in points, behind 59 kills, nine blocks and seven aces. The United States countered with 50 kills, 11 blocks and six aces. The American also benefitted from four more opponent errors (37-33).

In the decisive fifth set, the Americans trailed 12-8, but pulled within two with strong serves from Michael Saeta forcing a Cuban timeout. The break worked as Cuba went on to a 15-11 victory.

“Our team performed well and improved as the match progressed, but they were desperate and anxious for the win,” Cuban coach Nicolas Vives said. “They put too much pressure on themselves. The USA is a good team, but we could have won in three sets. Our next match will certainly be difficult, but our mindset is on the win.”

Miguel David Gutierrez scored a match-high 30 points to pace Cuba, with a match-high 24 kills, four aces and two blocks. Miguel Angel Lopez followed with 14 points, all on kills.

The United States had a much more balanced approach to the match with six players scoring eight or more points. Arvis Greene Jr., Brenden Sander, captain Jonah Seif and David Wieczorek tallied nine points apiece. Greene, Sander and Wieczorek downed eight kills apiece alongside Jeff Jendryk. Seif chipped in four kills, a team-leading four blocks and an ace. Mitchell Stahl accounted for eight points, with three kills, three blocks and a team-best two aces.

“We wanted to see our team compete and I was proud of the way our guys worked,” USA coach Robert Neilson said. “Hats off to Cuba – that’s a really nice team and we hope to see them again in this tournament. Today, we were just more aggressive from the service line, and just the overall willingness to get in there and compete. Again, I’m really proud of our team.”

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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