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Cuba tunes up serving, sweeps Guatemala at U21 men's championship


GATINEAU, Canada, July 6, 2016 – Cuba served up 13 aces, including six from co-scoring leader Jose Romero Gonzalez, while defeating Guatemala 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-10) in Group B play at the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship on Wednesday.


Romero Gonzalez (six kills, one block) and Miguel Lopez (eight kills, three aces and two blocks) each scored 13 points for Cuba (2-0), while Roamy Alonso contributed a team-high nine kills. For Guatemala (0-2), Carlos Lopez Santiago was top scorer with eight points and Erik Flores added seven.


Cuba converted 30-of-59 attacks while Guatemala converted 20-of-58. Cuba came away buoyed ahead of their likely first-place showdown against host Canada at 8 p.m. Thursday.


“We know Team Canada – they always have a good team, very tall,” said Cuba outside hitter Miguel David Gutierrez, who scored four of his points on aces. “We are ready for this game ... We trained very well in Cuba for this championship.”


Lopez served an ace on match point, which was appropriate to how the match played out at Centre Sportif de Gatineau.


“The serving was the best part of the game,” Cuba’s coach Jesus Angel Cruz said. “The rest of our game was the same way that is was [Tuesday, in a 3-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago]. We can play much better.”


Guatemala's stated objective for the U21 is to help their core players prepare for the Central America U23 championship in a few weeks. The fact that they were credited with 10 digs was evidence of their resolve.


“We feel very happy for one more experience against Cuba,” Flores said.“It was very useful for increasing our level of play. We will continue to get better.”


Guatemala had their challenges with absorbing Cuba's hitting power, but the experience is something they can carry over when they play their regional rivals.


“Working with a team of that level, it gives us a lot more experience,” coach Reider Lucas noted.  “It is very valuable for us.”


Thursday in Group B, Guatemala faces Trinidad and Tobago at 6 p.m. Eastern time, while Canada and Cuba meet in the 8 p.m. match.