2017 NORCECA MEN’S WORLD QUALIFIER
Four matches took place at the 2017 NORCECA Men’s World Qualifier on day one, with Team USA rocketing past Guatemala in straight sets. Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico also took victories in their matches.
The tournament was supposed to offer up a 12 team lot but with the recent hurricanes (Irma and Maria), Puerto Rico and Cuba were unable to compete in the tournament. To which, they will still have their shot to qualify, but later this fall in a tournament with the fourth and fifth place finishing teams.
- Team USA def. Guatemala 3-0, (25-12, 25-14, 25-10)
The favorites of the tournament showed why they were in a dominant three-set sweep over Guatemala. The U.S. Men set the Guatemalans out of sorts with 13-0 in aces, 25-16 in kills and 5-2 in blocks. Behind Christenson’s setting, the team also posted a stellar .674 hitting clip.
The squad was led by Matt Anderson with 16 points on 12 kills, one block and three aces. Aaron Russell contributed another 14 points for the Americans on eight kills, one block and five aces followed by Taylor Sander‘s 10 point contribution.
“Sometimes when you’re playing teams at NORCECA and you don’t know much about them, and the chances are that you’re going to win, you can ease off,” said U.S. Head Coach John Speraw. “We talked a lot about how we just need to play USA Volleyball, and I thought out guys did a great job of that.”
The Guatemalans had three players that reached five points – Erik Flores Dias, Andy Leonardo Blanco and Leonel Aragon Lopez. 18 of the Guatemalan’s points were scored off Team USA errors.
- Trinidad & Tobago def. St. Lucia 3-0, (25-15, 25-16, 25-17)
The match between Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia was full of errors, with the winning squad committing 21 while St. Lucia posted 30 errors.
“It was a good match. We didn’t play together as a team for the last four months. We have 40 guys overseas. This was our first game since June together. As I told them, each game is a building point for us to keep working,” said Trinidad and Tobago’s Head Coach Sean Morrison.
Trinidad and Tobago were led by Ryan Stewart who posted 10 points on seven kills, one block and two aces. St. Lucia saw a strong showing from Joseph Clercent who put down a match-best 14 points on 11 kills, one block and two aces.
- Costa Rica def. Martinique 3-1, (25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21)
Costa Rica defeated Martinique in the only four-set match of the day. This match was also the only one that reached 20 points by both teams at some point. This is the first time that Martinique is playing in the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship, and their showing wasn’t a win but was not a terrible, overall, performance.
“The match was difficult because we didn’t expect them to play that way. In the third set, Martinique’s coach changed their tactics and it went better for them. We are very happy for the victory and we expect to play with the same intensity in the next match,” said Costa Rica’s captain Alberto Blanco.
The Costa Ricans were led by Blanco with 23 points while Jason Brown added another 12. Julio Alvarez and Estaban Araya each contributed 10 points in the win. For Martinique, Rodrigue Larcher posted 16 points while Joann Breleur added another 12.
- Mexico def. St. Vincent 3-0, (25-7, 25-16, 25-10)
Mexico rolled straight through St. Vincent one day one of the competition, holding the team to just 33 points scored the entire match. The Mexican squad also posted 16-1 in aces, 4-1 in blocks and 32-14 in kills.
Leading Mexico was Jorge Barajas with 14 points, which included five aces. Gonzalo Ruiz De la Cruz added another 10 points with five being aces. For St. Vincent, Kemaul Lee and Ronaldo Franklyn each contributed five points in the loss.
“I think we started out strong. We knew this team was not too difficult to play. It was more easy for us, but we always play strong in every game,” said Mexico’s captain Pedro Rangel.