August 13, 2003 - Venezuela pulled off the shock of the men’s Volleyball tournament at the Pan American Games on Wednesday with a stunning 3-2 win over the World Champions Brazil in the semifinals to advance to the gold medal match against Cuba on Friday.
Venezuela came back from 2-1 down to secure its first medal ever in Pan Am Games Volleyball. The final score was 25-20, 19-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-12. Meanwhile, Cuba edged USA 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23, 15-8) in the other semifinal.
“During the introduction of the players I said to my teammates that Brazil was a 99.5 percent favorite and our chance was just .05,” said Harry Gomez, the Venezuelan captain. “So we went on to the court with nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”
Gomez, who led the scorers with 23 points, said they were never intimidated by the presence of the Brazilians.
“We showed no respect for them in terms of being afraid and depended on our own ability,” he said. “Thanks to the experience of the World League for the past three years, this team has matured a lot and we showed tonight that we are one of the elite teams in the world.”
“I think that Brazil played below par today and we lifted our level a notch. They failed a lot and we put pressure on with our serve."
Thomas Ereu had 16 points for Venezuela and Andy Rojas added 13.
Brazil, who will play for the bronze medal against USA, was led by Nalbert Bitencourt with 21 points. Andre Nascimento had 17, Giba Godoy 15 and Gustavo Endres had 10.
Cuba, the Pan American Games defending champions, came back strongly from a 1-2 deficit to beat USA.
The Americans took the first and third set and came from behind in the fourth set to within one point before relinquishing the set.
“We couldn’t keep the momentum in the tie-breaker and the Cubans had some good serves,” said Doug Beal, the American coach.
“I think my team was better prepared physically and that was the difference,” said Eliseo Ramos, the Cuban coach. “We came prepared to play five sets knowing that we were better prepared.”
“My team showed a lot of desire in a very tense match,” he added. “It was an excellent match and it was very important for my young team who showed character winning after being down 1-2.”
Yasser Portuondo led the Cubans with 17 points and Tomas Aldazabal added 15. Reydel Corrales had 14 and Ariel Gil 12.
Brook Billings scored 20 points for USA and Gabriel Gardner had 12.
In the first match of the day, Canada took fifth place in the men’s tournament of the Pan American Games beating the Dominican Republic 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23).
Sebastien Ruette led the Canadians with 18 points and Murray Grapentine added 14. Wilfredo Pascual and Elvis Contreras shared the lead for the Dominicans with 15 points apiece.