LIMA, Peru – The Trinity Western women’s volleyball team, representing Canada, lost to Cuba in a five-set thriller (16-25, 26-24, 25-18, 22-25, 15-7) in the match for fifth place at the U-23 Pan American Cup Saturday.
Playing in its final match of the tournament, the Spartans were bested by a Cuban team that was led by Yoana Palacio, who recorded a match-high 24 points to lead the victors on this day.
Despite winning the first set and then, after dropping the next two sets, battling back to force a fifth set by taking the fourth set, the Spartans were unable to finish on a winning note as they lost by eight points in the deciding set.
The Cubans, even beyond Palacio, had four players earn double digit points as Regla Gracia charted 16, Daymara Lescay and Alena Rojas each compiled 12 and Sulian Matienzo collected 10.
Royal Richardson led Trinity Western with 17 tallies followed by Casie Gano, Amy Leschied and Kelci French with 12, 11 and 10 respectively. Gano earned six blocks and French finished with five aces.
Cuba held a 61-48 advantage in attacks to compensate their 31 errors to 22 by Trinity Western. Cuba led 13-9 in aces while the Spartans held an 11-8 difference in aces.
Trinity Western finishes the tournament ranked sixth overall and with a 2-4 record.
“Both teams gave their best and it was a pleasure to reach a fifth set against Cuba,” Spartans coach Ryan Hofer said. “The players showed a lot of heart and that makes me feel happy.”
Trinity Western’s Kelci French added: “We improved day by day and today it was a tough match but we enjoyed it.”
With the win, Cuba improved to 3-3 on the tournament and finish ranked fifth.
“The girls started out of focus and I had to do some changes,” Cuba coach Juan Carlos Gala said. “The bench players performed very well especially the setter Beatriz Vilchez.”
Palacio added: “Both teams went to battle in the fifth set and the result came out in our favor. I saw many players with good level in the whole championship.”