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USA men earn Olympic ticket after qualification victory over Canada

USA earned the right to defend the men's Olympic title at the London Games following their victory over Canada on Saturday night at Anaheim, California
Long Beach, USA, May 12, 2012 – Beijing Olympic gold medalist the United States earned the right to defend its men’s volleyball title with a 3-0 (28-26, 25-18, 25-20) victory over Canada on Saturday evening in the final of the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament. 
USA, sixth in the FIVB World Rankings, have now qualified for each of the last four Olympic Games through the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament. However, the 2012 event marks the first time the Americans have qualified on U.S. soil, and a sell-out crowd watched the gold-medal match.

Cuba captured the bronze medal by defeating Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-15).

USA v Canada 
Clay Stanley turned in a USA-high 15 points as his team used a balanced offense. David Lee and Matt Anderson each contributed 13 points, while Reid Priddy added 12 points. World No. 18 Canada was led by Dallas Soonias’ 19 points, followed by Fred Winters’ 12 points.
USA managed a 47-37 advantage in attack points, in addition to an 11-5 margin in blocks.
USA overcame a 17-16 deficit in the first set to take a 19-17 advantage, leading to a Canada timeout. After trading several points, Canada knotted the set at 22-all with back-to-back points going into a USA timeout. Reid Priddy hammered consecutive spikes for the final two points in the 28-26 first-set victory in which the USA had four set-point opportunities. David Lee finished with eight points in the set and five Americans totaled at least three points. Canada was led by Dallas Soonias’ 10 points.
USA grabbed a 4-2 margin in the second set, then went up 8-3 at the first technical timeout on a Clay Stanley ace and Holmes quick attack. Canada closed to within two at 10-8 after an Adam Kaminski ace off the net. Stanley and Lee put up consecutive blocks to push the USA lead to four at 13-9 going into a Canada timeout. Stanley served an ace for the USA to go into the second technical timeout leading 16-11. The USA never relented and forged to a 25-18 victory. Stanley totaled eight points in the set, and the USA had three aces and three blocks.
Canada reached the third set’s first technical timeout leading 8-6, only to have the USA level the scores at 9-9. Priddy put up a block to swing the advantage to the USA at 11-10 and Canada hit long on the next point, creating a timeout at 12-10. USA built a 19-13 advantage on four unanswered points, but Canada scored four of the next five points to slice the deficit to 20-17. The USA held on down the stretch to win 25-20, capped by consecutive Matt Anderson kills. 
Cuba v Puerto Rico
Wilfredo Leon led Cuba with 13 points and Henry Bell chipped in 11 points. Puerto Rico’s Juan Figueroa notched a match-high 18 points and Ezequiel Cruz contributed 11 points. 
While Puerto Rico held a 42-41 advantage in attack points, Cuba made up the difference with an 11-2 block advantage and 4-0 margin in aces. Cuba also took advantage of 19 Puerto Rico errors to its own 12.
The match went as we thought it was going to go,” Cuba captain Leon said. “We think it was a great match to end the competition. Overall, we think we had a good tournament. It has served as a good experience for the next competition.”

Cuba coach Samuels Orlando commented: “For us, I think it hasn’t been a good competition, but as the tournament went on, we observed some positive improvements in the team. Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, our best match was the one we played against them. Tomorrow we leave for Cuba, then we leave for Japan for the World League.”

Congratulations to Cuba,” Puerto Rico coach Carlos Cardona said. “It is always hard to play for third place. It’s not only that we were tired from yesterday, but the fact we haven’t had any break. We’ve played six matches in six days. It was not only the fact that it was five sets [yesterday], but the fact that we almost made it to the final and we didn’t make it.”

Mexico v Dominican Republic
Mexico collected a 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-21) victory over the Dominican Republic to secure fifth place in the competition.

Carlos Guerra sparked Mexico with 23 points, while Ismael Guerrero contributed eight points in the victory. Dominican Republic was led by Eduardo Concepcion’s 11 points, which was matched by Elnis Palomino.

Mexico’s offense kept the Dominican Republic off guard with a 43-25 advantage in attack points and aces (7-5).

“I’m very disappointed,” Dominican Republic match captain Victor Batista said. “Our technical quality of the whole team is not what it is supposed to be for a national team. I think it starts there. We don’t have many players that play all year round. They don’t get to play until they come here. I think that’s a big problem we always have in the Dominican Republic.”

“It’s always good to finish a competition with a win and we’re happy we were able to do that,” Mexico coach Jorge Azair said. “Now it’s time to analyze what we need to do better in the future. We would like to compete with the best teams in the world. These NORCECA Games, any Central America Games, we want to do the best we can and we hope our federation will put in a structure that will help us achieve that.”

Trinidad & Tobago v Costa Rica
Trinidad & Tobago claimed seventh place with a 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22) victory over Costa Rica.

Marc Honore led Trinidad & Tobago with 17 points, while captain Nolan Tash chipped in 15 points. Costa Rica was paced by Richard Smith Hall’s 28 points, followed by captain Pablo Zumbado’s 10 points. Trinidad & Tobago held a 13-8 advantage in blocks and a slim 10-9 margin in aces.
“Definitely today I felt that the game was a lot more competitive due to the leadership of the Costa Rica captain and his players,” Trinidad & Tobago captain Nolan Tash said. “We definitely wanted to finish in seventh position. They kept us honest the entire game. On behalf of myself and my team, we are grateful to be here and happy with the hospitality that was shown to us.”
“Costa Rica is improving and we are improving and NORCECA is improving,” Trinidad & Tobago coach Gideon Dickson said. “Both teams probably need to play more at this level. We feel that the Costa Ricans play from the heart and they have nothing to lose. That’s why the match went four sets. Our team has grown in this tournament because we had to compete every day. Hopefully, the next time we compete, we can beat some of these bigger teams.” 

Individual  awards:

MVP: Clay Stanley (USA)
Best Scorer: Juan Figueroa (PUR)
Best Spiker: Matt Anderson (USA)
Best Blocker: David Lee (USA)
Best Server:  Pedro Rangel (MEX)
Best Setter: Pedro Rangel (MEX)
Best Digger: Jesus Rangel (MEX)
Best Receiver: Keibel Gutierrez (CUB)
Best Libero: Gregory Berrios (PUR)


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