USA the first to qualify to the NORCECA Olympic Qualifier



MORELIA, Mexico, September 29, 2015.- United States became the first to qualify to the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament while finishing first in Pool A as they beat Cuba 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 30-28) at the NORCECA Continental Championship on Tuesday.


United States topped Pool A with perfect record 3-0 with fifteen points and advances directly into the semifinals. Cuba finishes in third place with 1-2 record and seven points and will play the quarterfinal against Puerto Rico or Mexico.


United States kept their offense always strong, using fast runs and several attacking variations. Cuba was always defending and eager to avoid USA’s blockers. Scores in set two and three were close; as USA committed unforced errors and Cuba’s defense forced to long rallies. The third set was a thriller, in which both failed in serves while having set points, extending the victory for USA to 30-28.


United States led in kills with 36-31 margin, in blocks with 8-6 advantage and 6-2 in aces. The Americans scored on 30 Cuban errors and committed 23.


Opposite Nicole Fawcett was USA top scorer with 13 points, 11 on spikes and 2 blocks. Contributing to the winning effort was Middle Blocker Foluke Akinradewo with 8 points and Outside Hitter Jordan Larson-Burbach with 7 points. On the Cuban side, Outside Hitter Regla Garcia scored 15 points on a match-high, 12 on spikes, 2 blocks and 1 ace.


Captain Alisha Glass said “no match is easy, today Cuba presented a good defense and it was challenging having longer rallies, they performed with good energy; it was an exciting match to play”.


Captain Sulian Matienzo of Cuba said “we are thankful for the crowd’s support; they were cheering each of our points. We are satisfied to play the quarterfinals and we will continue performing strong like today”.


Coach Karch Kiraly was thrilled with the atmosphere at Bicentenario Auditorium “it’s wonderful to perform with lots of noise, making the sport more exciting, we love it”. About the match against Cuba he said “playing against a legendary volleyball program like Cuba is an honor, they are three time Olympic champions so we knew it was going to be a battle. We perform thinking in the next point and it was a thrill to have the score always tight. For the semifinals, we will study our possible opponents tomorrow”.


Cuban coach Roberto Garcia expressed “we used all our weapons today, thinking about the quarterfinals, whoever our opponent is, we now each team here very well and we have had time to study them. The strategy against USA today was to fight one point at a time”.