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USA defeats Dominican Republic 3-2 to finish fifth at Pan Am Cup

GATINEAU, Canada, July 30, 2017 - The United States took revenge from a defeat earlier this week to beat the Dominican Republic 3-2 (15-25, 25-22, 20-25, 27-25 and 15-13) in over two hours to finish fifth at the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena.

In a rematch from a preliminary round match, won in three sets by the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean squad took the initiative from the outset with Pablo Garcia performing well in the attack and joining Mario Frias in the block to lead 8-4 and 16-10 after the two technical timeouts. They went on to take the opening set easily 25-16.

The United States bounced back in the second set. The tallest team of the tournament showed their higher block to held off the Caribbean squad to win 25-22 and even the match at one set each.

Both teams exchanged points early in the third set, with the USA taking a narrow lead 8-7 at the first technical timeout. The North American took advantage of their rivals’ hitting and reception mistakes to increase the lead by three points (14-11), but opposite Pablo Garcia kept the Dominican Republic in contention with two consecutive aces to tie the set at 14.

After trailing 14-16 at the second technical timeout, Elvis Contreras was unstoppable in the attack and added an ace Caribbean team scored five consecutive points to lead 19-16. That gap proved to be decisive as Mario Frias hit the ball from the middle of the net to secure the win 25-20.

The USA regrouped and showed a better game in the fourth set, leading 8-7 and 16-14 at the technical timeouts. Pablo Garcia displayed a strong attack from the angles to tie the set at 21 and scored an ace to tie it again at 23. But the American kept their composure and after two set points, managed to win 27-25.

In the tie-break, Elvis Contreras scored an ace and 2.10m tall middle blocker Jose Caceres followed with two hard spikes to put the Caribbean squad 8-6 in front.  Brenden Sander and Kyle Ensing responded from the USA to even the set at 10 points. Both teams exchanged points, but David Wieczorek’s attack and the duo of Jeffrey Jendryk II and captain Jonah Seif closed the match with a block.

Kyle Ensing led the USA output with 18 points, followed by David Wieczorek (17), Jeffrey Jendryk II (15). Elvis Contreras was the top scorer for the Caribbean side with 23 points, including seven aces. Jose Caceres scored 11.

Jonah Seif, captain of the US team: “We’re pleased to get a win in the last game of the tournament; a great way to end.  We didn’t play perfect but we had a lot of resolve and were able to fight back.  Our goal was just to compete in every game as hard as we can. We just love playing on Team USA and representing our country.  We didn’t always play as well as we needed to, but it was great to come away with a win today.”

Robert Neilson, head coach of the US team: “Very exciting match; hats off to the Dominican Republic – those guys have been playing hard all week. This time our guys came out and competed really hard.  Our expectation was to come here and compete; and I think our guys learned a lot about what it takes to compete at this level. We would have liked to place a little bit better, but there were some good lessons learned for our guys.”

Elvis Contreras, wing spiker of the Dominican Republic: "The match was long. We did our best but made childish mistakes and the victory eluded us. You could see the players were tired in our faces. Six consecutive matches took their toll at the end, on top on the intense preparation we had. But the USA fought and deserved the win”.

Orlando Samuel, head coach of the Dominican Republic: "This was a long a hard week. We played tough matches. We lacked competitive preparation and our nerves failed in those crucial moments. We could not close the sets because we are not used to that pressure. But the team fought and I am satisfied with how most players performed. They put a lot of sacrifice and played better than expected. I have a positive balance from this event. We need a middle blocker and another setter for the World Championships qualifier.”