Cuba wins ticket to Rio de Janeiro



EDMONTON, Canada, January 10, 2016 – Cuba won the NORCECA Men’s Volleyball  Olympic Qualification Tournament and the ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Games by defeating hosts Canada with a surprising 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-21) score in front of a full house at the Saville Sports Centre of Edmonton on Sunday night.


Rolando Cepeda registered 21 points, including five aces, to spearhead the victory, followed by Osmany Uriarte, Luis Sosa and Javier Jiménez who contributed 8, 7 and 6 points, respectively.


The strong serves and solid blocking were the key factors for the victory of a Cuban team that was in command of the actions from start to finish.


John Gordon Perrin finished with 12 points as the leading scorer of the defeated side.


The 15th world-ranked Cuba outscored the No. 10 Canada 35-26 in kills, 7-4 in blocks and 8-6 in serving aces. The winners committed 21 unforced errors to 25 by the home team.


As second place team in the competition, Canada will have a second chance to earn a ticket to Rio at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan next May.


Rolando Cepeda, Captain of Cuba: “It was about time. In 2012 we lost the chance in a five-set match with Germany. We went out looking for this victory. Winning the first match 3-0 gave us a boost in our confidence. We had suffered many losses to the Canadians and it is the first time we get a win like this against them. It is a new beginning for the Cuban volleyball and I think we have a team for the years to come. I am super happy and really don’t have good words to express myself and my feelings in this moment.”


Rodolfo Sanchez, Coach of Cuba: “I feel very, very happy, extremely happy. We were facing a strong rival but we prepared for them and studied very well to get this important victory. Our serves and blocks were fundamental for us. To qualify for the Olympic Games is really important for the Cuban volleyball and I am extremely pleased with the performance of the boys.”


Fred Winters, Captain of Canada:  “We knew it was going to come to this, us versus Cuba for the Olympic berth, and I know we didn’t play our best volleyball tonight, they played unbelievably. That was the best I’ve seen them play all year. We played them a lot and seen them play a lot this past summer and tonight was the best they’ve been. It’s tough. We just couldn’t’ stop them. Couldn’t stop their serve, and couldn’t stop them on offence either. It was a really fast game. We couldn’t change the momentum. We had the lead for a bit, but they caught fire at the service line and we couldn’t stop that.”