Canada’s MacNeil and Richards clinch beach spot in Youth Olympic Games

FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – Canada’s Jake MacNeil and Andrew Richards sealed their spot in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, with a thrilling 2-1 (17-21, 26-24, 15-12) victory over U.S. team Louis Richards and Torey DeFalco under rainy conditions at Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo on Sunday (Dec. 08).

MacNeil (Georgetown, Ont.) and Richards (London, Ont), both 17 years old, who went undefeated in their three outings during the preliminary phase of the NORCECA Central Zone Boys’ Qualification Tournament on Saturday, also won another three-set battle with Mexico’s Luis Ramos and Jesus Rodriguez 21-14, 23-25, 15-13.

"I am thrilled and speechless after this great moment," an emotional MacNeil said. "We won the trials in Canada six months ago to come to this tournament and we have been training very hard since then. The work hard has paid off."

"I never thought this thing was going to be possible," Richards said. "It is like a dream representing our country in the Nanjing Games and I want to give credit to my partner, my coaches and my parents."

Commenting on the US Team, Richards said: "The match was even out there and could have gone either way."

On the girls’ side, Suzanne Muno and Sarah Poncil of the U.S. edged Canadian twin sisters Megan and Nicole McNamara of Delta, B.C. in three sets 21-19, 19-21, 16-14, with the American duo booking tickets to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing as winners of the NORCECA Central Zone Girls' Qualification Tournament on Sunday.

The Canadian women will get another chance to qualify for the Games at the NORCECA Final Playoff next March, where second and third placed teams of four tournaments will be competing for two remaining spots to the Games.

"Both teams represented Canada very well in Puerto Rico and both teams fought hard versus the USA in the finals," said Ed Drakich, Volleyball Canada's High Performance Director. "Congratulations to Jake MacNeil and Andrew Richards for qualifying for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and to Megan and Nicole McNamara for finishing second and earning a berth in the final NORCECA playoff to qualify for the Youth Olympics."

The second Summer Youth Olympic Games will take place in China from August 16 to 28, 2014.

Boys' Results
Semifinals: CAN d MEX 2-1 (21-14, 23-25, 15-13), USA d PUR 2-0 (21-13, 21-14). Bronze Medal Match: PUR d MEX 2-0 (25-23, 21-19). Gold Medal Match: CAN d USA 2-1 (17-21, 26-24, 15-12).
Final Positions: 1. Canada, 2. United States, 3. Puerto Rico, 4. Mexico.

Girls' Results
Semifinals: CAN d MEX 2-0 (21-11, 21-17), USA d PUR 2-0 (29-27, 21-16). Bronze Medal Match: MEX d PUR 2-1 (23-21, 13-21, 20-18). Gold Medal Match: USA d CAN 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 16-14).
Final Positions: 1. United States, 2. Canada, 3. Mexico, 4. Puerto Rico, 5. Dominican Republic.

With reports from NORCECA.