September 21, 2012, Langley, BC (ISN) – If there’s one team to watch out for at the inaugural U-23 Pan American Men’s Volleyball Cup, it’s Argentina. The South American team may be young – the Argentinians are sending their U-21 squad – but with a dearth of international experience, both as a team and as individuals, they may well be the favourites heading into next week’s tournament, which runs Sept. 25-30 at the Langley Events Centre.
While the side that will wear the Argentinian baby-blue and white has only been together officially as a team for five months, a number of the current players were involved in both the 2011 FIVB Boys Youth World Championship, where the team finished fifth, and, more recently, the 2012 Senior Men’s Pan American Cup, where Argentina finished second. And there’s no doubt that experience will be a great boon for the team once it hits the court in Langley.
With UCLA star Gonzalo Quiroga leading the way – a player who has led the NCAA-playing Bruins in points and aces each of the past two years and led the 2011 World Youth Championship in kills with 138 – along with experienced players like, amongst others, Gonzalo Lapera, Mauro Llanos, Esteban Martinez and Martin Weber, all of which played in this year’s Senior Pan American Cup, the Argentinians are loaded with talent. And with that talent, Argentina – currently ranked second in the FIVB Junior & Youth World Ranking – has high expectations for this week’s event as they look to capture gold at the first ever Pan American U-23 tournament.
“We hope to be in the final,” said Argentina manager Celia Osvlado. “But it is a very long tournament. We have to play a lot of teams and most of them are under the age of 23. We are only U-21.”
However despite the age disparity in comparison to some of the opposing teams, if the Senior Pan American Cup is any indication of how good this team could be, the opposition had better be prepared. As Trinity Western men’s volleyball middle Lucas Van Berkel – who will represent Canada along with the rest of his Spartans teammates at the event – can attest, having played against Argentina at the Senior Pan American Cup, this team has an impressive array of skills that will certainly provide headaches for its foes.
“They really possess the ball well,” Van Berkel recalled from Canada’s Senior Pan American Cup tournament-opening five-set loss to Argentina. “They don’t make many errors and they keep the ball in play and they don’t miss many serves. It’s really frustrating playing them because they don’t make mistakes and they just wait for you to make the mistake. If we want to have any success against them, we need to focus on what we do well and not get frustrated by how they play.”
The Argentinians are using this tournament as a preparatory event for the 2012 Junior South American Championship, which will be contested in October.
The team arrived in Canada earlier this week and is playing a series of exhibition contests against university teams in the Okanagan. In Argentina’s first match Thursday, the team beat Thompson Rivers University 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-11). Quiroga led the Argentinians with 12 kills in the win. They will play UBC Okanagan Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. with both games being played at the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium.
Argentina will open the U-23 Pan American Cup against the Dominican Republic at 4 p.m., before taking on Mexico Sept. 26 at 4 p.m., Brazil Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. and Canada Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.
To buy tickets for the U-23 Pan American Volleyball Cup, go to www.langleyeventscentre.com or go to the TWU Bookstore on the Trinity Western University campus.
About the U-23 Pan American Cup
The U-23 Pan American Cup is a new competition created jointly by the NORCECA (North America, Central America & Caribbean) and the South American Volleyball Confederations, and will feature the top teams from these zones. The event has been developed to provide an additional competitive opportunity for developing national team players who may be on the cusp of making their first appearances with their respective country’s senior level national teams. Athletes must be born in 1990 or later to be eligible to compete.
About Langley Events Centre
The Langley Events Centre (LEC) is a 260,483 square foot state of the art facility, which includes an Arena Bowl, Triple Gymnasium, Banquet Hall and Meeting Spaces all in one. Opened in 2009 with the latest technology, the LEC is home to Trinity Western University Athletics (Basketball, Volleyball and Hockey), the Langley Rivermen of the BC Hockey League, the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association and the Langley Junior Thunder of the BC Junior A Lacrosse League. Many organizations call the LEC home including Basketball BC, Langley Sports Medicine Clinic, Tourism Langley, MLA Rich Coleman, the Langley Gymnastics Foundation, RE Mountain Secondary School, and the Willoughby Community Centre. The facility has hosted events such as the 2010 BC Summer Games, 2011 CIS Men’s Volleyball National Championships, the 2011 World Junior A Hockey Challenge, the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling, the 2012 TELUS Junior Girls Basketball Provincial Championships, the 2011 and 2012 BC High School Boys’ AAA Basketball Championships, presented by TELUS, and multiple Provincial Gymnastics Championships. The LEC is also proud to be host to the 2012 U-23 Pan American Men’s Volleyball Cup and the 2013 BC AAA Girls Basketball Championships, presented by TELUS. For a complete list of previous and upcoming events, please visit www.langleyeventscentre.com