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Cuba sweeps Canada, wins Group B at U21 men's championship


GATINEAU, Canada, July 7, 2016 – Propelled by a dominant start, Cuba swept host Canada 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-16) on Thursday to win Group B of the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship and advance directly to the semi-final.


Miguel David Gutierrez paced Cuba with a match-high 17 points (including 13 kills from 17 attacks and three aces), while Miguel Lopez Castro tallied 12 (including 10 kills from 19 attacks). Sharone Vernon-Evans had nine points (including eight kills from 24 attacks) for Canada, which will face Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in a quarter-final on Friday at Centre Sportif de Gatineau. Eric Loeppky added eight points for Canada (including seven kills on 14 attacks).


“The team was very enthusiastic and very strong tonight – we were playing the way we do it in the practice – very fine,” Lopez Castro said.“We had a very good teamwork.”


Cuba was a proficient 41-of-67 on attacks. Canada was 28-of-70. Cuba used an array of spin serves to rack up a 9-0 edge in aces.


“It was big to win this game, giving us first in the group,”Cuba’s coach Jesus Angel Cruz said. “They stayed with the form that we have in our competition in Cuba, the Nacional.”


Canada libero Jordan Pereira was credited with seven digs on what was a tough night for the host team.


“We've got to be a little more intense throughout the game – we kind of lost it at points in sets,” Canada setter C.J. Gavlas said. “We know what level we have to be at now against Cuba and we have to play like it. Their spin servers put us in a lot of trouble.”


Canada went with Pearson Eshenko and Matthew Passalent as middle blockers, as captain Matt Mawdsley was rested.


“It was our first big match of the summer - I'm not disappointed, we're going to learn from this,Canada’a coach Gino Brousseau said. “We're going to learn from it and stay positive.”


One thing we will work on is our blocking. We were not very disciplined tonight, we were floating too much, which makes it difficult for the guys who play defence in the back row. We're going to work on that.”


The result means that Canada will likely be on the same side of the playoff bracket as Team USA, which won Group A with a 2-0 record.