Mexico and Canada to clash for the Olympic berth

COLIMA, Mexico, June 26, 2021. - Mexico and Canada will clash for the last Olympic berth to Tokyo at the NORCECA Continental Cup Finals on Sunday at Colima, Mexico.


The NORCECA final berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be decided between Josue Gaxiola/Jose Luis Rubio and Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico up against Canadian Schachter Samuel alongside Sam Pedlow and Grant O’Gorman with Ben Saxton.


In semifinals Mexico-1 of Josue Gaxiola and Jose Luis Rubio, 2016 FIVB U21 World silver medalists dominated Kevin Rodríguez and Cristian Encarnación of Puerto Rico-1 in straight sets (21-7, 21-17). The Mexican duo was more aggressive at the beginning but overconfident in the second set that carried on slower and a much closer score. Actions were even 11-11, but with several good defenses by Gaxiola and blocks from Rubio they pushed up to 17-14 to keep the advantage.


Josué Gaxiola explained that after their strong performance in the first, they got too relaxed in the second set “by adjusting our defense in the second set, our opponents got desperate and we were able to get back into our rhythm”.


Experienced Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros defeated Puerto Rico-2 of Josue Rivera and Juan Carlos Ribas 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-9). Mexico’s game was off against a powerful start from Puerto Rico who opened the score with two aces and winning the first set from keeping the Mexican duo out of balance. Virgen and Lombardo worked hard overcoming some offense errors and moving forward to a comfortable 21-14 and forcing a third set. It was an intense battle of good skills from both sides but Mexico jumped to a five point lead 10-5 and final 15-9 winning the series.


Juan Virgen said “in the end what matters is the win and that we will play for the ticket to Tokyo, this is why we are here. We had difficulties getting into a good rhythm, adapting to the win and we didn’t trust our game. Our opponent was strong and really doing some damage with their serves. We were more consistent from the second set onward”.


Canada won easily their semifinal series to Nicaragua, having only to play one match with Schachter Samuel and Sam Pedlow of Canada-1 defeating Ruben Mora and Dany López 2-0(21-16, 21-10). Both Pedlow and Schachter were strong in every skill, performing well.


Sam Pedlow indicated that the focus was on their side “we played our game, kept our standard and took care of ourselves; I think we had a little bit of nerves at the start but once we settled in we were in control”.


Speaking about tomorrows’ match against Mexico, Sam Schachter said “they are a fantastic opponent, they play on the World Tour and have high quality, and we’ve played against them so we know what to expect from this important match, they’ll bring their best and we’re bring ours”.


Results Men’s Semifinals Saturday


Mexico 2, Puerto Rico 0

Josue Gaxiola/Jose Luis Rubio MEX-1 d Kevin Rodríguez/Cristian Encarnación PUR-1 (21-7, 21-17)

Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros MEX-2 d Josue Rivera/Juan C. Ribas PUR-2 (18-21, 21-14, 15-9)


Canada 2, Nicaragua 0

Schachter Samuel/Sam Pedlow CAN-1 d Ruben Mora/Dany López NCA-1 (21-16, 21-10)

Grant O’Gorman/Ben Saxton CAN-2 d Jefferson Cascante/Dennis López NCA-2 (21-0, 21-0)