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Guatemala beats Barbados, reaches U21 men's semi-final


GATINEAU, Canada, July 8, 2016 – Led by Erik Flores' 19 points, Guatemala earned a semi-final spot at the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship by defeating Barbados 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22) on Friday. The win gives the Central American side a chance to test their mettle against Cuba on Saturday.


Flores, who was icing his right hand after the spirited four-setter at Centre Sportif de Gatineau, had 17 kills on 39 attacks to help Guatemala hold off a determined comeback from Barbados, whose captain Andriy Stapleton left the game with a knee injury in the first set. Wagner Chacon also scored 17 points for Guatemala. In Stapleton's stead, Barbados received 18 points apiece from Carlos Cyrus (all on kills, from 42 attacks) and Adam Niles (who had seven blocks).


“We got motivated by the value of this game – we knew it was very important, giving us a chance to get two more games [semi-final and a medal game] against good teams,” Flores said. “We know not too many countries of our region get the achievement of being in the semi-final.


“We feel excited for the fight we'll have on Saturday.”


The marathon one-hour, 41-minute match saw Guatemala convert 45 of 137 attacks, while Barbados had about the same efficiency at 47 of 140. The telling stat was that Guatemala conceded only 22 points from errors while Barbados allowed 41.


“For us, it's very beneficial being in the semi-final,” Guatemala coach Reider Lucas. “We are very happy to get the experience that we will received from these next two games.”


Stapleton went down awkwardly after completing a cross-court kill in the first set. The Barbados captain needed his teammates to carry him to courtside.


“To lose our captain, who is one of our best players, and keep playing, we did our best,” Barbados setter Paul Doughty said. “I'm still proud of our effort. They [Guatemala] were very tight, they had very good defence.”


Barbados could certainly leave the Centre Sportif with heads held high after getting all the way back to a 24-23 deficit in the fourth set, after being down 16-9 at the second technical timeout.


“I'm very, very, very proud of our effort tonight,” said Barbados coach John Stuart, whose team also had 10 kills from Ahkeem Mayers. “They showed a lot of heart. We played a lot better than we have in past games.”


Barbados and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' fifth-place classification match is at 4 p.m. Saturday.