Team USA beats Canada, will meet Cuba for U21 men's gold
GATINEAU, Canada, July 9, 2016 – Jack Tuaniga and Team USA had a
15-point run in the opening set that set a tone for their
straight-set 3-0 (25-9, 26-24, 25-21) semi-final win against
Canada in the U21 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship. The
win creates a Cuba-USA gold-medal game for a spot in the 2017
FIVB U21 world championship.
Outside hitter Dylan Missry was USA's top shot with 11 points
(11 kills from 24 attacks). Team USA also got 10 each from Kyle
Ensing tallied 10 (eight kills, one block and one ace) from
Jordan Ewert (including nine kills on 16 attacks). Canada
received 11 points from Sharone Vernon-Evans (all kills, from 31
attacks) and 10 from Eric Loeppky (eight kills from 19 attacks
and two blocks).
In the first, Tuaniga, the left-handed setter, had his spinning
salvos locked in while serving 14 consecutive points and keeping
USA's attack running crisply.
“I think that was the first time I have ever done that – that
was crazy,” said Tuaniga, a NCAA second-team All-American setter
at Long Beach State University. “I've done maybe 10, at most.
Fourteen was a rough one.
“[After the first set] we just had to keep reminding ourselves
that the team on the other side is a good team and keep working.
We did good job of that. Canada gave us a really good fight, so
kudos to them.”
Canada showed some pushback in the final two sets. In the
second, they had serve with a 24-24 tie before USA claimed the
next two points. The unexpected start did take a toll on the
“Looking back at that score [25-9], it definitely put a hit on
us as a team,” Canada setter C.J. Gavlas said. “We tried to
bounce back. We had a real good second set as a team and
couldn't put it away. It definitely did something to our psyche,
but I don't know if it should have.
“There's some disappointment, maybe a bit of frustration,”
Gavlas said. “We have to bounce back pretty quickly for tomorrow
night's [bronze-medal] game [against Guatemala].”
Neither Cuba nor USA has lost a set this week. The Americans, on
a per-player basis, have a slight edge over Cuba in age (19.0 to
Cuba's 18.2) and taller (196 cm to 194). And, of course, only
one team is assured a place at the worlds.
“I think Cuba is going to be a big, powerful team,” USA coach
Jay Hosack said. “They're not a finesse team, they just like to
go up and bang away. They serve very well. We're going to have
to do a little better job of passing the ball if we want to have
a chance. Those are the two things we'll work on before
Canada is a young team, with a 50/50 split of 1998-birth players
fresh from high school and 19-year-old university
student-athletes. Saturday's result was their second 3-0 loss of
the week against a top opponent.
“I will say we are still in a learning process,” Canada’s head
coach Gino Brousseau said. “That is what I told the guys: if
they want to play at a higher level, they have to learn to deal
with the pressure. We saw tonight a situation where the guys had
trouble. The kids are very disappointed. The staff is
disappointed. But they have to go through this situation.
“What I'm happy about is that we got beaten very badly in the
first set and we came back strong,” Brousseau elaborated. “That
means we have some character.”
The Canada-Guatemala bronze-medal game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Sunday, followed by the 8 p.m. Cuba-USA final.