Cuba wins Pan American Cup bronze after 3-1 win over Canada
GATINEAU, Canada, July 30, 2017 - Cuba claimed the bronze medal
of the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup after beating
Canada 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-23) in almost two hours
at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena.
The gold and bronze medallists from the 2016 edition, Cuba and
Canada met for the first time in this tournament with the host
country fielding a younger team after claiming a historic bronze
medal at the FIVB World League.
In front of an enthusiast home crowd, Canada started out well,
but Miguel Angel Lopez led the attack and Cuba took advantage of
their rivals’ hitting and serving errors to move 16-11 in front.
Javier Jimenez and Miguel David Gutierrez also contributed in
the attack as the Caribbean side took the opening set 25-18.
Both teams played evenly in the second period. With the score
tied at 19, Miguel Anguel Lopez hit an ace and the Islanders
also took advantage of their rivals’ serving and hitting errors.
Ryan Sclater kept Canada in
contention with a strong attack and serve, but Cuba defended
well and sealed the partial win 25-21 with another strong spike
Blake Scheerhoorn and Max Burt hit hard and blocked the powerful
Cuban attack to put the host team in front 8-4 at the first
technical timeout. Coming from the bench, Dariel Albo joined
Miguel Angel Lopez in the attack to keep Cubans in contention
With Casey Schouten from the service line, Canada scored four
consecutive points to keep the Canucks 19-14 in front. Cuba
closed the gap, but Scheerhoorn completed the partial win 25-22
with a strong spike from the right angle.
Both teams maintained a close battle in the fourth set, with
Lopez and Sclater leading their respective teams from the
hitting line as Cuba led 16-15 at the second technical timeout.
Lopez and Gutierrez caused more damage with their powerful
spikes. Blocking and attacking, Sclater closed the gap for the
Canadians 22-23, both the Lopez-Gutierrez duo sealed the victory
with two more solid hits.
Miguel Angel Lopez led the Cuban offensive with 21 points as
Miguel David Gutierrez added 16, including three aces. Captain
Livan Osoria and Javier Jimenez totalled 10 each. Ryan Sclater
was Canada’s top player with 25 points and Blake Scheerhoorn
contributed with 12.
Miguel Angel Lopez, wing spiker of Cuba: “The team performed
well. We recovered psychologically from the defeat vs. Puerto
Rico y entered this match with a different mindset. This game
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 us competing in our first senior tournament.
Many of us will play the U23 World Championships in two weeks.”
Nicolas Vives, head coach of Cuba: "Our guys recovered mentally
from a loss and that’s important in any team, especially for
this young side. Our players improved as the tournament
progressed. We achieved our goal, winning a medal here. We will
now prepare for the U23 World Championships and the World
Ryan Sclater, player of Canada: “It was a tough game for me, I
felt that things were not going well at the start, but then it
was a process trying to build back in…. It was sweet though
because our team is really tight and does a good job of
supporting each other. So it was really helpful for me 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.
“A lot of us are playing at this level for the first time, so we
have a lot to take away and process over time. It was good to
see the level that we need to raise our game to and be more
consistent and steady.”
Larry McKay, head coach of Canada: “It was a good developmental
game for us. At times we matched the level of that Cuban
national team, which was very good for our group. What we are
trying to do with these guys is continue on what other coaches
have developed over time that has led to the success of the
current senior A team. I think we’re doing a good job with the
developmental aspect and hopefully these guys will be able to
populate the senior A national team in the future.”