Puerto Rico stuns the USA to reach Final Four in Men’s Pan Am
GATINEAU, Canada, July 28, 2017 - Puerto Rico kept their winning
campaign at the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup as they
defeated the United States 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-14)
at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena.
Both teams started out well. Puerto Rican libero Dennis
Del Valle made an almost impossible save, before Maurice Torres
and Steven Morales blocked the USA attack to keep the match even
at eight points. Both Morales and Torres were also crucial to
move the Islanders ahead 16-15 at the second technical timeout.
The gap stayed close, but Torres hit hard again and Sequiel
Sanchez followed with an ace and strong attack to win the
opening set 25-21.
The Puerto Ricans kept the momentum in the second set as they
led 8-4 at the first technical timeout. Kyle Ersing kept the
Americans in contention from the hitting zone, as they trailed
13-16. Roman Mannix’s ace advanced the Islanders 20-15, but the
Americans closed the gap to 19-20 with Brendan Sander and Ersing
leading the way. Captain and setter Edgardo Goas and Mannix
Roman closed the set for Puerto Rico with a double block to win
The tallest and youngest team in the tournament, the USA showed
their higher block as Jeffrey Jendryk II, Brenden Sander and
Jonah Seif stopped their rivals in the net to lead 7-4, but
Puerto Rico bounced back and score four consecutive points to
move ahead 8-7 at the first technical timeout. Reception and
hitting errors ensued as the Americans came back on top and 11-8
and led leading for the first time in the match after a
technical timeout (16-14).
The Americans did not slow down. Led by Mitchell Stahl, Sander,
Ensing and David Wieczorek, the went on to take the third set
Puerto Ricans came back on fire early in the fourth set. Setter
Edgardo Goas paved the way for six consecutive points as they
reached the first technical timeout comfortably 8-1 ahead.
Sequiel Sanchez, Maurice Torres and Pablo Guzman responded in
the serve and attack as Goas and Mannix Roman did by blocking
their rivals to extend the lead to 16-4. That gap proved to be
unsurmountable as the Islanders maintained their composure and
sealed the historic win with Sequiel Sanchez’s spike from the
Winner of two medals in the 11-year history of the event, Puerto
Rico aims to return the podium for the first time in seven
years. They last claimed the bronze in 2010.
Pablo Guzman and Maurice Torres were Puerto Rico’s top scorers
with 18 points, two more than Sequiel Sánchez. Kyle Ensing led
the USA output with 14 points. Sander Brenden (13) and Jeffrey
Jendryk II (10) also totaled double digits.
Ramon Hernandez, coach of Puerto Rico: “We knew it would be a
difficult match against a talented team. But our team came out
focused and with a well-defined plan. They played well in every
aspect of the game and that’s why we achieved this performance.
This is only our fourth game this summer and our team is
growing, building our game progressively. This is a very
important step. We will prepare to play well and have our best