VOLLEYBALL: Cuba upsets U.S. in final of men’s NORCECA Championship

Cuba celebrates another NORCECA men's title! (Photo: NORCECA)

Cuba won its 16th NORCECA men’s championship on Sunday, defeating the United States by three sets to one in Winnipeg, Canada after losing to the Americans in group play.

The U.S. won the first set, but then lost three straight – 18-25, 25-21, 25-20,. 25-20 – to finish second, after winning the title in 2017. Cuba, the most successful team in this tournament, hadn’t won since 2011.

The U.S. – playing with a development team – went 3-0 in its group, winning in straight sets over the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Cuba. Canada won its group, also winnings its matches in straight sets. Those two teams advanced directly to the semis, where the U.S. swept 3-0 but Canada was upset by Cuba, 3-1. Canada won the bronze-medal match vs. Mexico, 3-0.

The Cubans were led by Osniel Mergarejo and Miguel Angel Lopez with 15 points each, followed by Robertlandy Simon with 14 and Marlon Yant with 12. T.J. Defalco and Kyle Ensing had 12 points apiece for the U.S.

Said American coach John Hawks, “They served really well, as we expected, and I think offensively they were just a little sharper than they were the other night. We didn’t pass as well as we did, we lost the serve/pass game; our guys are trying to prove ourselves to our senior teams, to be on the roster.

“Leaving here with the silver medal is great, but we want gold. We’re proud of the effort, but in the end we just weren’t sharp enough, so credit to Cuba, they played great.” Summary:

NORCECA Men’s Championship
Winnipeg (CAN) ~ 31 August-8 September 2019
(Full results here)

Final Standings: 1. Cuba; 2. United States; 3. Canada; 4. Mexico; 5. Puerto Rico; 6. Dominican Republic; 7. Guatemala; 8. Suriname. Third: Canada d. Mexico, 3-0; Final: Cuba d. U.S., 3-1.