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Cuba beats spirited Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 in men's U21 Group B opener


GATINEAU, Canada, July 5, 2016 – A composed Cuba posted a straight-sets 3-0 (25-15, 25-6, 25-16) victory against Trinidad and Tobago in the opening Group B match of the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship.


Miguel Lopez Castro led Cuba with 17 points (including 12 kills on 16 attacks, one block and four aces) and Miguel Gutierrez Suarez added 14 (eight kills, four aces, two blocks) at Centre Sportif de Gatineau. Marlon Phillip topped Trinidad and Tobago, which is the youngest team in the event, with 13 points (including 12 kills on 34 attacks).


“Since minute number one, we were all trying to do everything correct,” Cuba captain Rey Issac Flores said. “If anything went wrong, we corrected it quickly. We had a lot of trust in ourselves and the big thing is we were always pushing forward.”


Cuba, with significantly more size and experience than Trinidad and Tobago, succeeded on 37-of-52 attacks to their opponents 19-of-64. The disparity in strength and size led to a 9-2 Cuban edge in aces.


“We have to play our game,” Cuba coach Jesus Angel Cruz said. “The service was slow today. It will improve.”


Trinidad and Tobago is not only the youngest team with an average age of 17.1, but has an average height of 181 cm to Cuba's 194. The developing squad stayed level to 10-10 in the third set. Cuba corrected with a kill and a block from Roamy Alonso and ran off 10 of the next 13 points.


“The second set we went down [emotionally] a bit,” Phillip said. “I talked to all the players and said, 'we can still have fun and do our best,' which we did. They are more experienced than us and taller.”


Trinidad and Tobago coach Gideon Dickson said his team completed an important exposure by facing Cuba.


“All in all, we are very appreciative of this game,”Dickson said.“It's taken us a long time to get to this level. In the first set we challenged and maybe caught Cuba a bit off-guard. In the second set Cuba showed their superior. Their number 2 [Lopez Castro] was on another level.


“Remember, the Cubans play within a system whereas we in the Caribbean play volleyball occasionally. We need to learn from them.”


Cuba's next action is against Guatemala on Wednesday at 6 p.m. eastern time, while Trinidad and Tobago plays host Canada in the 8 p.m. game.