Canada loses heartbreaker to Cuba in NORCECA men’s volleyball semifinal

MAYAGUEZ, Mexico – Canada came within one set of upsetting superpower Cuba in men’s volleyball on Friday night in semifinal action at the eight-country NORCECA (North and Central America and Caribbean) Championships.

The Cubans, ranked sixth in the world and the defending champions, outlasted the fast improving 22nd ranked Canadians 23-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-17, 15-9 in a match that lasted two hours and three minutes. 

With the victory, the Cubans face the winner of the U.S., -Puerto Rico semifinal and qualify for the World Cup final in November, the first Olympic qualifying event for the Summer Games.

The Canadians, face the loser of the other semi, for the bronze then prepare for the NORCECA Olympic qualifying event.

Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon led the Canadian attack with 25 points while Fred Winters of Victoria added 15 and Toon Van Lankvelt of River, Man., 11. Canada entered the match with nine straight wins under its belt, including a 3-0 mark here in the round robin which qualified it directly to the semis.

Canadian roster for the NORCECA men’s volleyball championships August 29 to September 3, 2011 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Players: Steve Brinkman, Bowmanville, Ont.; Nicholas Cundy, Edmonton; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Alexandre Gaumont-Casias, Marieville, Que.; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man.; Fred Winters, Victoria; Justin Duff, Winnipeg.

Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau

Team manager; Julien Boucher, Quebec City.

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For more information: www.volleyball.ca and www.norceca.org