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United States to play U20 Pan Am Cup Gold medal match

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, May 12, 2017. – United States moved in to the gold medal match followed their 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 30-32, 25-20) win over Cuba in the U20 Women’s Pan American Cup semifinal in San Jose, Costa Rica on Friday night.

The match had a delay due to a blackout while United States led with comfortable 20-15 margin; an advantage held thru the entire set, followed by their set two recovering from a four point deficit. Cubans pocketed set three after a spiking fest between both sides not before a dramatic finish of 32-30, the highest set yet. United States stormed past Cuba in set four dominating every skill, as Cuba engaged in consecutive unforced errors.  

United States will have to wait and see after the semifinal between Puerto Rico and Argentina if they finish as the top ranked Norceca team to qualify to the FIVB World Championship.

In numbers, United States benefited from 32 opponent errors while limiting to 17 their own. Cuba held advantage in spikes (57-54) and in blocking (13-11); United States did better in serves (8-5).

Elizabeth Hall led United States’ scorers with 20 points, including 17 kills and three blocks, followed by 14 points by middle Regan Pittman, 13 points by Khalia Lanier and 12 points by Mackenzie May. Heidy Casanova scored 21 points for Cuba, Ailama Cese contributed with 15 points and middle Laura Suarez chipped in with 13.

Khalia Lanier, United States’ captain: “Cuba is such a great team and they have the ability of putting you emotional and think about what you’re doing. In the first and fourth set showed how much we keyed in. It was a hard loss in the third; it’s good to be challenged by your opponents to make you think on the fly. I’m proud of our composure”.

Diaris De La Caridad Pérez, Cuba’s captain: “It was really difficult match; we had too many errors which led to our loss. We are very sad and frustrated. For our next match we’ will continue to play strong”.

Jerritt Elliott, United States’ Head Coach: “After the lights went out we came out to win sets one and two executing well. We were up by two or three points but lost a really close set in game three. I am very impressed the way we came out in set four and executed in serving and our outside game. For as practicing so little, it’s phenomenal the job and chemistry the group has; we’re potentially qualified to worlds, we’ll just have to wait”.

Wilfredo Robinson, Cuba’s Head Coach: “We should have been as effective as we were in the second set. We failed in receiving and we couldn’t control their serves. We weren’t able to counter-attack enough and we handed out too many points. The girls must have learned from this experience for their next international tournament”.