USA gold, Canada silver at NORCECA championships


GATINEAU – Maurice Torres scored a game high 14 points to lead the U.S., to a 25-14, 25-19, 25-16 victory over Canada in the gold medal final Saturday at the NORCECA junior men’s volleyball championships played before a full house at the Centre Sportif.

It is the first time the U.S., has won the tournament for North and Central America and the Carribean which started in 1998 and is held every two years.  

Nicholas Hoag of Sherbrooke, Que., the tournament MVP, led Canada with 12 points.  The Canadians, also silver medallists in 2008, had their best set in the second but a six point U.S., run midway through was too hard to make-up.

“The U.S., really came to play and we just got out played today,” said Justin Olmstead of Edmonton, who added seven points.  “Our plan was to stick to what we we’ve doing all week and keep that block stable.  But they made it tough on us and we wound up making a lot of errors.

The Canadian team was only together for less than a month but managed to win its pool in the round robin then pull off the upset of the tournament by defeating the three-time defending champions Cuba and finished with a 4-1 record.  The U.S., Canada and Puerto, which beat Cuba for the bronze earlier on Saturday, also gained spots for next year’s world championships in Brazil.

It was a great tournament for us,” said Canada’s head coach Greg Barthel of Regina. “It just hurts right now but I’m sure later we’ll appreciate what we accomplished here.  I think it will just make us hungrier for next year at the world juniors.

“We fell behind early and once they get ahead they start beaming into their serves.  It becomes harder to pass and they simply played a good game.”

The U.S., didn't lose a set in the entire tournament going 5-0.

“This victory means absolutely everything to us,” said Maurice Torres, who led the U.S., with 14 points.  “There’s nothing more you can do than win a gold medal.  We play as a team.  There’s not one or two of us, there’s 12 of us.  That’s the best system you can have.”

“I was proud of our effort this week and tonight,” said U.S., head coach John Hawks.  “They executed the game plan, they are smart players and just a really fun group of guys to coach.”

Bronze medal match Puerto Rico (4-2) vs Cuba (3-2)

August 21

Puerto Rico wins showdown for bronze, world junior berth

GATINEAU, Que. - Puerto Rico defeated Cuba 25-16, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22 for the bronze medal on Saturday at the NORCECA junior men’s volleyball championships. With the victory, Puerto Rico also gained the third and last available berth for next year’s world junior championships at this tournament.

“We know it’s not the gold medal but it feels awesome,” said Puerto Rico’s Ramon Burgos. “One of our big goals was to get a spot for the world junior championships and we did it. It’s a feeling I can’t explain. We worked so hard for this. It’s great to see our program making so much progress at the international level.”

Jorge Antonio Lopez led Puerto Rico in scoring with 19 points, Ricardo Archilla added 15 and Christian Rivera 15. 

The Cubans struggled in this tournament. Still it is hard to believe the three-time defending NORCECA champions won’t be at the 2011 world juniors. In 2009, they took the silver medal at the world juniors.

“We were hoping we were going to play better today,” said Cuba’s coach Roberto Garcia. “But Puerto Rico played very well. We didn’t do our job, there is no excuse.”

Lazora Fundora notched 18 points for the Cubans, Jorge Gonzalez 16 and Zamy Gomez 14.

5th place match Dominican Republic (2-2) vs Mexico (2-3)

August 21

Hungry Dominicans grab fifth place at NORCECA championships

GATINEAU, Que. – The Dominican Republic was determined to win its last match at the NORCECA men’s junior volleyball championships.   The Dominicans defeated Mexico 26-24, 25-22, 29-27 to finish the tournament in fifth place. Mexico takes sixth spot.

Team captain Miguel Vargas was once again the offensive catalyst for the Dominican with 17 points, Anuary Burgos added 15 and Kelvin Campechano 13.

“We feel very happy about the win,” said the Dominican’s head coach Osiel Vasquez Cancio. “We’ve been working very hard and this win goes to the Dominican. Our players were well prepared at all levels.”

“We wanted to finish higher in this tournament but as soon we started playing today we got excited about the match,” said Cesar Severino. “Mexico often beats us in international match-ups so it’s a very proud and memorable moment for us.”

Mexico was still feeling the sting of its five-set quarterfinal loss to Puerto Rico on Thursday. Juan Revuelta posted a game high 21 points for the Mexicans.

“We are very disappointed,” said Revuelta. “Our goal was to go to Brazil for the junior worlds and the fact that goal was gone didn’t make us feel good. It was very hard for us to play today.”

10th place match Trinidad and Tobago (1-3) vs St. Lucia (0-6)

August 21

Trinidad and Tobago finishes 10th at NORCECA Championships

GATINEAU, Que- Trinidad and Tobago defeated St. Lucia 25-12, 26-24, 25-22 to finish in 10th place at the 11-country NORCECA junior men’s volleyball championships.

Brandon Legall led the victors with 15 points while Kazeem Khan added 12 and Bernard Renaud 10. It was the first victory of the tournament for Trinidad and Tobago who went 0-3 in the round robin.

“This was a goal for our team not to finish last,” said Trinidad and Tobago captain Akim Bushe. “We showed we have a lot of good volleyball in us and the next tournament we plan to come out a lot better and stronger.”

St. Lucia completed its first appearance at the NORCECA juniors. They took Trinidad and Tobago to the limit in two sets, showed a lot spirit and presented to the volleyball world standout player Julian Bissette who led his squad with nine points

“Our best memory of this tournament will have been the opportunity to play some excellent teams like Cuba,” said St. Lucia’s coach Elvin Germain. “Roberto Garcia (Cuba’s coach) is my former coach and also trained some of the guys on our team.   It’s been a roller coaster for us here but we learnt a lot on the technical elements of the game and what it takes to play at this level.