Canada, Cuba to meet for Group B top spot at U21 men’s championship
GATINEAU, Canada, July 6, 2016 – Canada beat Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 (25-19, 25-9, 25-18) at the U21 NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship, which sets up a Group B first-place showdown against Cuba .
At Centre Sportif de Gatineau in Quebec, Eric Loeppky had a match-high 14 points (including nine kills from 17 attacks, two blocks and three aces). Taryq Sani and Sharone Vernon-Evans had matching eight-point contributions, with seven kills apiece. Marlon Phillip had 10 points (all through kills, from 31 attacks) to top Trinidad and Tobago, which is the youngest squad in the seven-team event.
Canada converted 39 kills from 76 attacks, while Trinidad and Tobago converted 20 of 67.
“I told them step two is over – now we play Cuba, and that will be a different game,” Canada coach Gino Brousseau said, referring to the match at . “Sometimes when you play a team like Cuba it is easier, in the sense that they play the same style of game as you.
“In a situation like this it can be tough, because you’re expected to win,” Brousseau added. “So all the pressure is on you. They’re at the learning stage of their careers where they’re figuring out how to deal with that. I know we can play better volleyball than we did … We did a couple good things. We worked hard on the blocks this morning at practice and we were more disciplined in the game.”
Canada’s strongest sustained stretch, as the scoreline would indicate, came during the second set. Setter C.J. Gavlas coordinated a smooth attack before giving way to Derek Epp for the third.
“He [Gavlas] has been playing fantastic – I think we all have,” Canadian middle blocker Matthew Passalent said.
“Our performance boosted our confidence going into match,” Passalent added. “We always love a good fight. We try not to focus on who we are playing and try to play our game.”
Trinidad and Tobago pulled together with a respectable final set after fraying during the lopsided second.
“We just gained more confidence,” Phillip said. “Against a team like that, we just have keep our rhythm and support each other on the court. Use our hands and move.”
The Caribbean squad will stand more eye-to-eye against Guatemala at , since each team has an average height of 181 cm. The match will be for third in Group B and a quarter-final berth.
“We appreciate a match with this intensity,” Trinidad and Tobago’s coach Gideon Dickson said. “It was very beneficial from our standpoint. At no point in time, certainly not when we play in the Caribbean championship, do we play a team with this size. During the first and third sets, we understood what we needed to compete at this level.”
Group B play begins with the Guatemala facing Trinidad and Tobago. The victor will be assured of playing at least two more matches, while the other team will only have 6-7 classification game.