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Cuba beats Dominican Republic in Men’s Pan American Cup debut

GATINEAU, Canada, July 25, 2017 - Cuba played to a successful debut at the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup with a four-set (25-17, 25-22, 21-25 and 25-22) win over the Dominican Republic in over an hour and a half of play at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena in Canada’s capital region.

The youngest team of the tournament, featuring seven players from the 2017 Men’s U21 World Championships silver medal winning squad, got off to a solid start, taking the first two sets, before their Caribbean rivals bounced to narrow the lead with a 25-21 victory in the third set.

Cuba came back and kept an early lead in the fourth set. The Dominican Republic closed the gap to a two-point lead, but Cuba prevailed with a 25-22 win to secure the match.

Miguel Angel Lopez led the Cuban attack with 23 points. He was also supported by Miguel David Gutierrez (18), the best opposite of the 2017 Men’s U21 World Championships. The Dominican Republic mostly relied on Henry Lopez (16 points), Elvis Contrera and Jose Caceres, who produced 14 each.

Nicolas Vives, Cuban coach: “They played well. 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”.

Orlando Samuel, Dominican Republic’s coach: “For us the match was very difficult because we didn’t play since two years ago.  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.”