United States Block Cuba to Win Pool B


OMAHA, Nebraska, September 18, 2013 – The United States used a 11-2 block advantage to defeat Cuba 25-9, 25-13, 25-12 to conclude Pool B of the Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship on Wednesday evening at Ralston Arena.


The U.S., the defending champion of the biennial NORCECA Championship, won Pool B with a 2-0 record and 10 points. The Americans earned a direct ticket to the semifinals on Friday as one of the top two pool winners.


Cuba, the youngest team in the nine-team tournament field with an average age of 19.7, ended pool play with a 0-2 record with two points. They will play in the 7-9 classification round starting with a contest versus St. Lucia on Thursday.


The U.S. was led by Lauren Gibbemeyer’s 13 points that included a team-high five blocks. Kelly Murphy added 11 points in the victory. Cuba was topped by Jennifer Alvarez and Melissa Vargas with five points each.


The United States held a 41-18 advantage in kills and 6-1 margin in aces during the match. The Americans, ranked No. 2 in the world, limited their errors to 13 for the match.


U.S. Captain Kristin Hildebrand: “I thought that tonight we did a really good job putting pressure on Cuba and focusing on our side of the net. We played really clean for the majority of the match. We had a lot of people come off the bench and make great contributions. The crowd was awesome. It was fun to see more people come out and we’re hoping it will keep growing. One of the things we’ve been emphasizing the whole year is serving tough. I think we can always serve tougher and tougher.”


Cuba Captain Daymara Lescay: “Today we didn’t play very well. We struggled. We had low energy. In order to play at this level in this competition we had to play at a higher level.”


U.S. Coach Karch Kiraly: “One of our focal points this year is embracing adversity. We had a nice opportunity for that because we had a mixup in the warmup time. Our team handled that really well. They came out and served tough and passed well, just like we focused on.”


Cuba Coach Juan C. Rodriguez: “We knew right at the beginning that playing the United States, one of the best teams in the world, we needed to be ready for their serve. We even tried to change some things around to handle the serve. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and we weren’t able to compete.”


Photos of the match can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/egxur6mmggnukx4/8rnHuq0Mwl.  All matches in the Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship can be viewed online at http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Events/Live-Webcast.