Canada’s women’s team wins gold over Cuba

men's team falls to the U.S.

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Women’s Summary:
Canada’s women’s team won gold and qualified for the 2018 World Championships this weekend at the NORCECA Senior Women’s Continental Championship and World Championship Qualification Tournament (Group B).

The score was 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-23), pleasing the enthusiastic crowd at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, BC.

Canada started off tentative very early on in today’s final, but then gained strength after the first technical time out of the first set, and didn’t really look back despite a late challenge by the Cuban team.

Alexa Gray, also named tournament MVP, led all scoring with 19 points, followed by Marie-Alex Belanger with 17 points. Sulian Matienzo reached double digits for Cuba with 12 points.

Cuba comes away with silver and also earns a berth in the 2018 World Championships, which will be held in Japan.  Nicaragua and St. Lucia finished third and fourth respectively.

Marcello Abbondanza, head coach of Canada: “We are very happy.  We played very good, especially in the first two sets. We showed what progress we’ve made this summer.  I’m happy for my team – they gave it 100-percent of what they had, and winning 3-0 is never easy, so bravo!”

Lucy Charuk, captain of Canada:  “The last time we faced Cuba (at the Pan Am Cup in Peru) we lost to them, so we’ve had our sights set on this match for the last month and a half.  We knew it came down to tonight.  We learned so much in the last five months, it’s awesome.  … We love playing at home, it’s just the best feeling!”

Wilfredo Robinson Pupo, head coach of Cuba: “This was a very tough match and our players did their best. At the start of the tournament, we tried to play some of our younger players to get them used to this level of play, because we’ve recently had a lot of turnover with the addition of six new players….. The last was tough, but we didn’t have enough to respond to the completion. We can play better, but I’m happy that the team finished with a strong effort…..Canada played very well all game today. They were very strong on the block, which made things very difficult on us today.”

Men’s Summary:
The United States got a measure of revenge over Canada on Saturday with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-21) victory at the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado.

The victory qualifies the U.S. Men (4-0) for the 2018 FIVB World Championship. They will play Dominican Republic (3-1) for the NORCECA title on Sunday at 5 p.m. MT.  Canada plays for bronze at 3 pm local time against Mexico.

Canada had defeated the United States the last three times they had played each other. But the U.S. came out confident in the first set and took a 12-9 lead that it increased to 19-13.

Canada kept the next two sets closer, but couldn’t get a significant lead.

The United States serving was tough as it finished with seven aces while Canada had none. The U.S. also led in spikes (35-32) and blocks (6-2).

U.S. outside hitter Aaron Russell led all scorers with 15 points on 15 spikes. Opposite Matt Anderson added 11 points on eight attacks and three aces.

Outside hitter Stephen Maar led Canada with 11 points.

U.S. Captain Micah Christenson: “It’s become a pretty awesome rivalry (between the U.S. and Canada). We’re in the same zone. We’ve played them a couple times over the past year and they’ve gotten the better of us. All credit to them. They are world class. I think our serve and pass game was great tonight. We put a lot of pressure on them with our serve.”

U.S. Head Coach John Speraw: “(Canada) has gotten so much better over the last four to eight years. They have some good young talent and they’ve beaten us recently. I thought our energy and focus was there throughout the entire match.”

Canada Captain Gordon Perrin: “(The U.S.) served really well. With this ball it’s very difficult to hold the serves. We were really bad in reception and we couldn’t run any plays. They played free and they definitely won the serve and pass game this time.”

Canada Coach Stephane Antiga: “The USA served very well. We wanted to win this competition and to qualify for World Championships. Right now we will focus on Mexico. We want to win tomorrow. We are ready.

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