Info & photo by NORCECA

Canada won its first men’s Pan American gold medal defeating Brazil 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22) at the XVI Men’s Senior Pan American Volleyball Cup last night in Mexico.

Historically, Canada has earned three silvers, including last year, and three bronze medals, but this is Canada’s first gold medal at this tournament.

In the final, Canada was led by Isaac Heslinga with 13 points, along with Byron Keturakis and Logan House with nine points each. Brazilian Darlan Ferreira was the top scorer of the match with 24 points, and Victor Almeida added 11 points. The Canadians led in blocking 8-3 and in service points 4-1, while Brazil led in attacking points 59-52. Canada committed one less unforced error than Brazil (31-32).

“I’m so proud of this group; the focus, the effort and the hard work,” said NextGen Head Coach Dan Lewis. “This team trained for 11 weeks together, and I was very demanding of them and each step they kept working hard all summer.

“When we got to the event, they executed so well, they stuck together the whole tournament. It’s a big steppingstone for all these players, many of them just starting their professional careers. We have to keep pushing to compete with the best and keep finding our way.”

Canada had lost its tournament opening match to Brazil, then beating Dominican Republic in their next pool contest, and defeating the U.S. in the quarterfinals. They faced home-crowd favourites Mexico in the semifinals, winning 3-1 to land in the gold-medal match. Chile ended up with the bronze after a win over Mexico.

Canada’s team captain Fynn McCarthy, in the post-match interview, said:  “It’s been a tough summer, we’ve worked hard, and we were focused on this tournament… The gold medal is thanks to the great work we’ve been doing all summer.”

Canadian opposite Isaac Heslinga was also named tournament MVP. See a full list of award winners here.