Canada Upsets Cuba to Reach Semifinals


Long Beach, California, May 9, 2012 – Canada, ranked No. 18 in the world and No. 4 in NORCECA, came out fired up and upset Cuba 25-21, 25-17, 25-21 on Wednesday to finish 3-0 and first in Pool B of the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament being held May 7-12 in Long Beach, Calif. Cuba entered the tournament ranked No. 5 in the world and No. 1 in NORCECA.


Gavin Schmitt collected 21 points for Canada and Frederic Winters added 16 points in the victory. Cuba was led by Fernando Hernandez’s 13 points, followed by nine points from Rolando Cepeda and Wilfredo Leon.


Canada took advantage of 21 errors by Cuba and held margins of 6-2 in blocks and 5-2 in aces. Canada converted 62.3 percent of its attacks (43 of 69) for points thanks to setter Joshua Howatson’s 22 running sets and 44-of-52 successful service receptions.


Canada will now bypass the quarterfinal round and play an undetermined semifinal round opponent on Friday. Cuba lost for the first time in Pool B and will take on Trinidad & Tobago in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.


Canada Captain Frederic Winters: We knew that this was the really important match for us. I think USA is the strongest team here.


 We want to play them in the finals. We haven’t accomplished our goal yet, but we’re on our way. Were really happy with the result. Good team effort. We’ll see who we play on Friday.


“We’re obviously happy with the result,” Canada Coach Glenn Hoag said. “We only have one chance for this. Now we’ll focus on the semifinal. This Cuban team is much younger than the Cuban teams we’ve played in the past. I thought we had very few errors and our serving was really good.”


“The game obviously didn’t go well,” Cuba captain Wilfredo Leon said. “There were many errors on our side. This is where we became disjointed. We knew it was going to be a strong match, but it was not our day. The competition keeps going and there is still the possibility to win.”


“Canada played very well today,” Cuba coach Orlando Samuels said. “They get the credit - they played well. They set well, their block and defense (were good). They played better than us. Congratulations to Canada.”