Puerto Rico posted a decisive win 3-0 (25-21, 25-16 and 25-22) over hosts Canada on Wednesday in Pool B play at the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena. Puerto Rico, a two-time medallist at this continental event, aims to reach the podium for the first time since 2010.
“We didn’t play well and they were better than us in every aspect of the game,” Canada’s coach Larry McKay said after today’s contest. “The score is pretty indicative of the better team tonight.”
Both teams started evenly, but the Puerto Ricans took a narrow 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout. They stayed in front 16-14 and despite some serving errors, Maurice Torres’ hard hitting paved the way for way for the first set victory 25-21.
Puerto Rico kept the momentum early in the second set 8-5, thanks to good defense and blocking. Pablo Guzman led the attack and the duo of Steve Morales and Maurice Torres blocked the tall Canadian spikers to take the second set 25-16.
Canada made some changes in their starting six in the third set, but the inspired Puerto Rican side maintained solid play to take the lead 8-5. Sequiel Sanchez’s hitting and blocking kept his team in front 16-11.
Torres increased the gap from the service line and hitting. With the score 21-14, Puerto Rico’s coach brought three new players from the bench. The local squad did not give up. With a solid defense, attack and a tall block by with Brandon Koppers, Jordan McConkey and Byron Keturakis, they put themselves back in contention 21-22.
But the Caribbean squad found the edge with Torres and Morales blocking again to seal the victory 25-22 after almost one hour and a half of play.
Maurice Torres and Sequiel Sanchez were the top scorers for Puerto Rico with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Danny Demyanenko totaled six for Canada.
Puerto Rico’s coach Ramón Hernández, was obviously pleased with his side’s effort: “We had a great performance against a really good team, so I feel really proud of the effort of our team today. We stayed aggressive throughout the whole match,; we knew it was going to be a tough opponent. We served hard and we stayed disciplined in our strategy and it worked out for us tonight.”
The result leaves Argentina alone on top in Group B with two wins. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela and Canada meets Argentina on Thursday on the final day of the preliminary round. Advance tickets are available at: https://goo.gl/J77jQ1
NOTE: Match starting times for the Sunday (July 30) finals have been moved up to 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm EASTERN.
Preliminary Round Schedule
14:00 Argentina v Puerto Rico 3-0
16:00 Cuba v Dominican Republic 3-1
18:00 United States v Mexico 3-1
20:00 Canada v Venezuela 3-1
14:00 Dominican Republic v United States 3-0
16:00 Argentina v Venezuela 3-0
18:00 Cuba v Mexico 3-0
20:00 Canada v Puerto Rico 3-0
14:00 Mexico v Dominican Republic
16:00 Puerto Rico v Venezuela
18:00 United States v Cuba
20:00 Canada v Argentina
Byron Keturakis, Surrey, BC (setter)
Gabriel Chancy, Montreal, QC (setter)
Irvan Brar, Surrey, BC (left side)
Brandon Koppers, Georgetown, ON (left side)
Blake Scheerhoorn, Belleville, ON (left side)
Ryan Sclater, Port Coquitlam, BC (left side)
Robert Wojcik, Oshawa, ON (right side)
Casey Schouten, Winnipeg, MB (right side)
Tyler Epp, Saskatoon, SK (middle)
Jordan McConkey, Stratford, ON (middle)
Danny Demyanenko, Toronto, ON (middle)
Max Burt, Gander, NL (middle)
Bryan Duquette, St. Thomas, ON (libero)
Olivier Riopel, Gatineau, QC (libero)
Larry McKay, Head coach
Jason Haldane, Assistant coach
Phil Dixon, Assistant coach
Melissa Healy, Therapist
Julien Boucher, Team manager
Murat Haktanir, Statistician