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Cuba topped United States for NORCECA U19 Boys’ Title

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, June 10, 2018.- Cuba topped United States in straight sets 3-0  (25-17, 25-17, 25-20) winning to win the NORCECA U19 Boys’ Continental Championship title on Sunday night at Gimnasio Nacional of San José, Costa Rica.

With strong hitting and powerful physical condition Cuba beat United States winning their fifth NORCECA U19 title and second in a row. This is United States fifth silver medal. This is the third consecutive title match between Cuba and United States.

Cuba dominated the first set entirely, with effective serves and monster blocks, while United States had difficulties in receiving. The US boys regrouped in the second, jumping to a four point lead but Cuba’s hard hitting made its trick. Cuba and USA engaged in a neck to neck battle in the third set, tying the score on numerous occasions.

Cuba sustained a sizeable 13-4 margin in blocking, 34-25 advantage in attacks and only 1-0 margin in aces. They committed similar amount of unforced errors, Cuba a total of 23 and United States 27.

Cuba had two players with double figures, opposite Alexei Ramirez scored a match-high of 12 points, on 11 kills and one block, and wing spiker José Miguel Gutiérrez scored 11 points, on 9 kills, one block and one ace. Opposite Clarke Godbold of United States scored 7 points, wing spiker Alexander Knight 6 points and Akhil Tangutur scored 5 points.

Very emotional, with tears Opposite Alexei Ramirez of Cuba said: “I am really excited, I thank God, my coaches and everybody for this title. We really wanted things to work”.

Coach Mario Izquierdo of Cuba: “thanks to my boys’ efforts we reached our goals and all the people involved in this Project. This victory brings good news to my country after suffering a tragic plane crash a few weeks ago; giving good news like this is the best we can bring back home. My boys worked at their fullest, they deserve because of their many sacrifices. We were aggressive, our blocks en reception worked out great”.

Coach Brad Keller of United States: “Cuba is a really good team, they are physical and they bring from the service line like I have never seen before. Congratulations to Cuba they did a good job. As for us, we earned a tough bid to worlds, we got a year to get better, we will get better and we’ll compete. What to improve: I thought our serves and passing that are our bread and butter, a little bit of transition and blocking scheme; they are all doable”.

Captain Joseph Karlous of United States: “we worked harder than in the pool-play match against Cuba, it was emotional with people cheering on the stands and we only focused on us, talking to each other, supporting each other. I’m proud of what we accomplished after being together for two weeks. US volleyball is great, it’s a system that works and always will work”.