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Puerto Rico blanks Canada to take first win of Pan Am Cup

GATINEAU, Canada, July 26, 2017 - Puerto Rico posted a surprising win over hosts Canada on Wednesday in Pool B play at the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena in Canada’s capital region. They blanked the host country in three sets (25-21, 25-16 and 25-22).

Puerto Rico, a two-time medallist at this continental event, aims to reach the podium for the first time since 2010.

Both teams started evenly, but the Islanders took a narrow 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout. They stayed in front 16-14 and despite some serving errors, Maurice Torres’ hard hitting paved the way for way for the first set victory 25-21.

Puerto Ricans kept the momentum early in the second set 8-5, thanks to a good defense and block. Pablo Guzman led the attack and the duo of Steve Morales and Maurice Torres blocked the tall Canadian spikers to take the second set 25-16.

Canada made some changes in their starting six in the third set, but the inspired Puerto Rican side maintained a good quality play to take the lead 8-5. Sequiel Sanchez’s hitting and blocking kept his team in front 16-11.

Torres increased the gap from the service line and hitting. With the score 21-14, Puerto Rico’s coach brought three new players from the bench. The local squad did not give up. With a solid defense, attack and a tall block by with Brandon Koppers, Jordan McConkey and Byron Keturakis, they put themselves back in contention 21-22.

But the Caribbean squad found the edge with Torres and Morales blocking again to seal the victory 25-22 after almost one hour and a half of play.

Maurice Torres and Sequiel Sanchez were the top scorers for Puerto Rico with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Danny Demyanenko totaled six for Canada.

The result leaves Argentina alone on top in Group B with two wins. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela and Canada meets Argentina on Thursday on the final day of the preliminary round.

Larry McKay, coach of Canada: “We didn’t play well and they were better than us in every aspect of the game.  The score is pretty indicative of the better team tonight.”

 Ramón Hernández, coach of Puerto Rico: “We had a great performance against a really good team, so I feel really proud of the effort of our team today.  We stayed aggressive throughout the whole match, we knew it was going to be a tough opponent. We served hard and we stayed disciplined in our strategy and it worked out for us tonight.”

Edgardo Goas, captain of Puerto Rico: “We controlled our serving pretty well. Yesterday we struggled with our reception and today we did really well in that aspect. Pablo Guzman came into the starting line-up and did a great job, and overall it was a good team effort.  I think a lot of the teams are pretty evenly matched and a lot of the teams have great serving, so we have to be ready for that at this tournament.”