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
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”.