Mexico claim the spot to Tokyo in dramatic Golden Set

COLIMA, Mexico, June 27, 2021. - Mexico claimed the spot to the Tokyo Olympic Games in a dramatic Golden Set over Canada at the NORCECA Continental Cup Finals in Colima, Mexico.


Mexico’s Olympic berth came with extreme drama, from the hands of young Josué Gaxiola and José Luis Rubio who beat both Canadian duos under heavy rain and tough conditions in Colima.


Gaxiola and Rubio first faced Samuel Schachter and Sam Pedlow finishing with a spectacular 2-0 (24-22, 21-13). Tensions were really high with Gaxiola and Rubio stealing the set to Canada while recovering from a four-point deficit (15-19); Mexico missed their first of two set points and finished 24-22 on a huge block from Rubio.  In set two, Mexico was more confident and led by a huge 7pt-margin (12-5) on many Canadian unforced errors and Gaxiola’s smart moves ending 21-13.


In the second match of the series, Canadians Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton were more consistent than Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico. Both O’Gorman and Saxton were focused, showing skillful plays in their 2-0 (21-18, 21-13) win. Set two was Canada’s strongest performance, leading by huge 10-3 and extending their Olympic dream to a Golden Set by evening the series.


Josué Gaxiola and José Luis Rubio faced Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton in the tie-break, youth against experience was a great display for the Mexican supporters who showed up despite the pouring rain at the Colima Sports Institute. The scores were always close, but it was Gaxiola and Rubio who jumped to a 13-11 lead but needed three match points to win the Olympic berth for Mexico 15-13. 


José Luis Rubio said “we were confident in all our preparation from these past years, we knew we were capable and in the end the result speaks for itself. In the first match of the series we were nervous and a little desperate, we were able to calm down to close the match. Our adrenaline of the golden set was necessary to win this small (in points) but huge set”.


Josué Gaxiola indicated that the Olympic berth was always the goal here and their confidence as a team made it possible “we are sure that México has a great team, we can make lots of great things and having this opportunity we can show it. I consider our friendship with José Luis our greatest strength”.


Earlier, under similar conditions with strong rain but with a strong performance Puerto Rico took third place in the event. Kevin Rodríguez and Cristian Encarnación earned the bronze medal for Puerto Rico defeating Central American Champions Ruben Mora and Dany López from Nicaragua 2-1 (26-28, 21-17, 17-15) in a really close and exciting match.


Men’s Results Sunday


Puerto Rico 2, Nicaragua 0

Kevin Rodríguez/Cristian Encarnación PUR-1 d Ruben Mora/Dany López NCA-1 (26-28, 21-17, 17-15)

Josue Rivera/Juan C. Ribas PUR-2 d Jefferson Cascante/Dennis López NCA-2 (21-0, 21-0)


Mexico 2, Canada 1

Josue Gaxiola/Jose Luis Rubio MEX-1 d Samuel Schachter/Sam Pedlow CAN-1 (24-22, 21-13)

Grant O’Gorman/Ben Saxton CAN-2 d Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros MEX-2 (21-18, 21-13)

GOLDEN SET Josue Gaxiola/Jose Luis Rubio MEX-1 d Grant O’Gorman/Ben Saxton CAN-2 (15-13)