USA worlds-bound after winning U21 men's gold
GATINEAU, Canada, July 10, 2016 – Team USA's finesse won the day
against Cuba's power, and the Americans are world
championship-bound by virtue of a 3-1 (25-17, 29-27, 19-25,
25-22) gold-medal game victory at the U21 NORCECA Men's
Continental Championship on Sunday.
The hotly anticipated final at Centre Sportif de Gatineau swung
on the second set. Team USA surmounted a six-point deficit
(17-11), setting up a frantic finish where USA prevailed on the
sixth set point after leading scorer Kyle Ensing put down a free
ball. In the closeout set, tournament most valuable player and
top setter Josh Tuaniga and USA played from ahead, preventing
Cuba from getting closer than two points after the first
technical timeout. A Miguel David Gutierrez serving error sealed
“This is super-awesome, being able to fight with this team, go
through it all and see that each guy wants it just as much if
not more,” said Tuaniga, who crossed up Cuba with a no-look down
ball to score the penultimate USA point. “Just to see the fire
in our team.
what makes all worth it. We've seen how much we love this game.
“Anything we do with 'USA' on the jersey, I love it. I just
thank God for the opportunity. First time I've ever played Cuba.
Such a great team. Such big arms.”
Ensing was top shot with an efficient 20 points (including 15
kills from 25 attacks), while Jordan Ewert added 19 (18 kills
from 34 attacks). Jose Carlos Romero paced Cuba with 19 points
(16 kills from 32 attacks), while the outside-hitter combo of
Gutierrez and Miguel Lopez each had 14. Ewert and Gutierrez were
each named the tournament's top spikers.
Team USA converted 55-of-106 attacks (51.9 per cent) while Cuba
made good on 54-of-115 (47.0%). The Americans' reception seldom
wavered, as Cuba was limited to three aces. .
“One of the things that we took pride in when we started
training was we were not going to let anyone outwork us,” USA
coach Jay Hosack said. “That second game was the deciding
factor. We talked about sending a message by sending a ball back
in play – does not matter if it's a free ball or a down ball –
just to say to them 'you got to do better than that.' After that
they started making more errors. I could not be more proud of
the way they played tonight.
“Kyle Ensing had 18 kills and zero errors and hit over 70 per
cent for the match. That's huge. We'll take that any night of
“Cuba's a very good team, very strong,” Hosack added. “I would
not be surprised if they were at worlds next year with an
you see teams like that for the whole week, they can bring some
heat. I thought we took some of their swings away with our
Cuba, understandably disappointed, stayed alive winning the
third set. They couldn't sustain momentum, with the USA taking
an 8-6 lead into the first technical timeout.
“Today we didn't play like us,” Cuba coach Jesus Angel Cruz
said. “We were very quiet. We didn't play like a Cuba team. Only
the third set was good.”
Cuba did not drop a set in their first four games, which
included a win against Canada during the group stage.
“I feel bad – we didn't meet our target,” said Roamy Alonso, who
was named the tournament's top blocker. ”It was the final and
the team was under a lot of pressure.”
Canada earned the bronze medal after defeating Guatemala 3-0
(25-13, 25-12, 25-19) on Sunday.
Best Spiker – Jordan Ewert, USA
Best Spiker – Miguel David Gutierrez, Cuba
Best Blocker – Marcus Thomas, Saint Vincent
Best Blocker – Roamy Alonso, Cuba
Best Receiver – Jordan Pereira, Canada
Best Server – Miguel Gutierrez Suarez, Cuba
Best Digger – Jordan Pereira, Canada
Best Setter – Josh Tuaniga, USA
Best Libero – Jordan Pereira, Canada
Best Opposite – Erik Flores, Guatemala
Best Scorer – Erik Flores, Guatemala
Most Valuable Player – Josh Tuaniga