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Argentina is one of the teams to beat at U-23 Men’s Cup

Argentina's Gonzalo Quiroga is the leading spiker of the pre-tournament favourites at the U-23 Men's Pan Am Cup

Langley, Canada, September 24, 2012 - If there’s one team to watch out for at the inaugural U-23 Pan American Men’s Volleyball Cup, it’s Argentina.

The South American team may be young – the Argentineans are sending their U-21 squad – but with a dearth of international experience, both as a team and as individuals, they may well be the favourites heading into this week’s tournament, which runs Sept. 25-30 at the Langley Events Centre.

The other teams entering the competition are Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Canada, represented by Trinity Western University.

While the Argentina team has only been together officially as a team for five months, a number of the current players were involved in both the 2011 FIVB Boys Youth World Championship, where the team finished fifth, and, more recently, the 2012 Senior Men’s Pan American Cup, where Argentina finished second. And there’s no doubt that experience will be a great boon for the team once it hits the court in Langley.

With UCLA star Gonzalo Quiroga leading the way – a player who has led the NCAA-playing Bruins in points and aces each of the past two years and led the 2011 World Youth Championship in kills with 138 – along with experienced players like, amongst others, Gonzalo Lapera, Mauro Llanos, Esteban Martinez and Martin Weber, all of which played in this year’s Senior Pan American Cup, the Argentineans are loaded with talent. And with that talent, Argentina – currently ranked second in the FIVB Junior & Youth World Ranking – has high expectations for this week’s event as they look to capture gold at the first ever Pan American U-23 tournament.

“We hope to be in the final,” said Argentina manager Fabian Muraco. “But it is a very long tournament. We have to play a lot of teams and most of them are under the age of 23. We are only U-21.”

However despite the age disparity in comparison to some of the opposing teams, if the Senior Pan American Cup is any indication of how good this team could be, the opposition had better be prepared. As Trinity Western men’s volleyball middle Lucas Van Berkel – who will represent Canada along with the rest of his Spartans teammates at the event – can attest, having played against Argentina at the Senior Pan American Cup, this team has an impressive array of skills that will certainly provide headaches for its foes.

“They really possess the ball well,” Van Berkel recalled from Canada’s Senior Pan American Cup tournament-opening five-set loss to Argentina. “They don’t make many errors and they keep the ball in play and they don’t miss many serves. It’s really frustrating playing them because they don’t make mistakes and they just wait for you to make the mistake. If we want to have any success against them, we need to focus on what we do well and not get frustrated by how they play.”

The Argentineans are using this tournament as a preparatory event for the 2012 Junior South American Championship, which will be contested in October.


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