FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA, CANADA: Although Puerto Rico fought until the end, they couldnâ€™t hold off the hard serving Cubans falling 0-3 (15-25,12-25, 20-25) at the U21 Pan American Cup at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre at Keyano College in Fort McMurray.
Osniel Melgarejo was Cubaâ€™s top contributor with 14 points, including five services aces, while teammate Miguel Lopez had 11 points â€“ six off the serve.
Nicolas Vives Coffigny, head coach of Cuba, said: â€śMy guys went out to play pretty well. We accomplished our mission by being first of Group A. Now we have to wait and see what will happen later today. Iâ€™ll be watching Canada-Brazil tonight. Both teams are good so itâ€™s hard to know who we will face in semi-finals on Saturday.â€ť
The Puerto Rican scoring was led by Pedro Molia, who tallied eight for his side.
â€śWe finished hard. Cuba showed today that they are the strongest team in the Caribbean,â€ť said Angel Melendez, head coach of Puerto Ricoâ€™s U21 team. â€śBut we never give up because we are representing our country, which is the most important thing.â€ť
The tournament is a qualifier for the U21 World Championships: Brazil beat Chile for the ticket available to South America while Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Barbados and Guatemala are vying for the NORCECA vacancy.
May 16 (local time)
12:00 Cuba v Chile 3-0
18:00 Brazil v Barbados 3-0
20:00 Canada v Guatemala 3-0
16:00 Chile v Puerto Rico 1-3
18:00 Guatemala v Brazil 0-3
20:00 Canada v Barbados 3-0
16:00 Puerto Rico v Cuba 0-3
18:00 Barbados v Guatemala
20:00 Canada v Brazil
Finals rounds on May 19-21