Canada win seesaw battle with Cuba


Canada's captain Fred Winters shows his emotions after the close victory over Cuba on Wednesday

Wroclaw, Poland, September 10, 2014 – Canada prevailed over Cuba in nail-biting five-setter (25-27, 25-18, 23-25, 25-11, 15-13) in match of Pool F at Centennial Hall of Wroclaw on Wednesday night. The Canadians raised their point-total to seven while Cuba’s slightly increased to two for the second round.

Key points
• Cuba gave away 38 points via errors to 25 by Canada
• Cuba had won their only previous meeting at world championship in 1998
• First five-match winning streak of Canada in world championship

Dallas Soonias and Nicholas Hoag topped the winners’ scoring with 17 and 16 points, respectively, while John Gordon Perrin and Fred Winters contributed 13 and 10 points.  Cuba’s Rolando Cepeda tallied 17 followed by Javier Jimenez with 14. Osmany Uriarte (13) and Isbel Mesa (10) also reached double digits.

In the first part of the meeting, both teams could not take a clear lead. The Canadians were effective in blocks while Cuba’s team showed some powerful spikes. From the very beginning of the match, Javier Jimenez’s moves were very promising as he scored points by strong kills and ace. However, some simple errors from the Caribbean side gave the North American team a 16-14 lead before the second time-out. It was mainly thanks to John Gordon Perrin and his amazing spikes. Following the break, Cuba managed to take a two-point lead as the captain Rolando Cepeda beat Canadian block. Head coach Glenn Hoag’s team did not want to give up so easily as their astonishing devotion in receiving balls and fantastic double block caused a tied score 24-24. In a decisive moment, the Cubans had a better attack efficiency and a perfect triple block was the key to their victory 27-25 in the first set.

Spikes by the likes of Isbel Mesa and his double block with Leandro Macias gave the world No. 7 ranked side a short lead but fantastic Justin Duff’s kills changed the result, so that Canada led 8-6. The great hope of the Caribbean side was Osmany Uriarte who successfully finished almost every move. However, the Canadians stayed completely focused as not only did they spike effectively, but also wisely decided which ball should be received. With that game, they jumped out to lead 16-11. Perrin and Dallas Soonias were systematically extending the North American team’s lead, so that the Cubans were getting more and more nervous. With Perrin’s ace, Canada won the set 25-18.

In the next part, the luck came back to Cuba’s team as they jumped out to 10-6 lead thanks to perfect blocks. Soonias, Perrin and captain Frederic Winters managed to defeat Cuban defence for the several times but the focused Caribbean side were hard to stop. Again, Cepeda was oppressing the Canadians with his precise kills so that his team got off the court for a technical break with 16-10 lead. With other moves, head coach Rodolfo Sanchez’s team even extended their leading as No. 15 ranked team had problems with reception and finishing their moves. When Cuba scored the 20th point, unexpectedly Canada managed to catch up the opponents and reduce the margin to 22-21 with excellent block and splendid Nicholas Hoag’s spikes. However, with Uriarte’s block-out move, Cuba got the third set 25-23.

Canada got back on the court with a few changes as Gavin Shmitt and Tyler Sanders showed up. They were highly mobilized for the fourth set as they jumped out to 8-4 lead. Following the technical time-out, lots of Cubans spike’s mistakes and Hoag’s kills were the reason why the North American side increased the lead to nine points. With the next moves, the Cubans were getting more confused as they could not stop Soonias or Frederic Winters’s spikes. Confident and precise Canadian players brought about the tie-break with the result 25-11, following Schmitt’s block-out move.

In the tie-breaker, the Canadians blocking by Soonias and Adam Simac was the key to success. With great kills, Glenn Hoag’s team gained a 7-3 lead. The Cubans were looking for their chance in powerful spikes by the likes of Jimenez, so they forced the Canadians to make several errors. The North American side was keeping a two-point lead. With Uriarte’s ace, Cuba managed to bring the tied score but Schimtt’s kill definitely solved the case for Canada’s team as they won 15-13.


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