USA beat Cuba in five sets and advanced to Semifinals

CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA (Sept. 7, 2023) – The USA held off a tough challenge from Cuba to win their match and their pool 3-2 (25-22, 25-17, 24-26, 22-25, 15-12) on Thursday at the NORCECA Senior Men’s Continental Championship at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

The USA (3-0) will advance straight to Saturday’s semifinal while Cuba (2-1) will play Mexico (0-2) in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Cuba finished the match holding an edge in in kills (59-57) while the USA led in blocks (17-7) and aces (6-5). Each team finished with 31 scoring errors. Cuba made four errors in the fifth set while the U.S. Men had two.

U.S. outside hitter T.J. DeFalco led all scorers with 26 points on a match-high 19 attacks, a match-high six blocks and one ace. Outside hitter Aaron Russell added 20 points on 17 kills, two blocks and one ace. Middle blocker Max Holt totaled 12 points on seven spikes, three blocks and two aces.

Outside hitter Marlon Yant led Cuba with 22 points on 18 kills and four blocks. Opposite Jesus Herrera added 14 points on 13 kills and one ace. Outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez totaled 13 points on 10 kills and a match-high three aces.

U.S. Coach John Speraw: “Before this tournament, we haven’t competed for a month and I thought it was important for us to be tested. If we want to be the best team that we can be this summer, it’s going to require some stress. We certainly had some stress tonight. We will learn from this so we can be better. Cuba played great. Being down 0-2, they had a nice match and got better and better. Credit to them. I am just glad we were able to make some good plays in the fifth set.”

Cuba Coach Jesus Angel Cruz Lopez: “As everyone observed, it was a good volleyball match. The United States played very well towards the end with fewer errors than us and secured the victory. As a team, this match allows us to have a better vision of what level of play we are reaching, which is our main goal. I believe we will meet again in the final.”