The U.S. men’s national team competing at the Pan American Cup fought hard but came up short in a 24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11 loss to Cuba on Thursday at the Pan American Cup in Gatineau, Canada.
The U.S. Men finished third in the pool at 1-2 and will play Puerto Rico (2-1) in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“We wanted to see our team compete and I was proud of the way our guys worked,” U.S. Head Coach Rob Neilson sad. “Hats off to Cuba. That’s a really nice team and we hope to see them again in this tournament.”
Every player on the U.S. roster started at least one set in the match and 11 players scored at least two points or more.
The U.S. led in blocks (11-9) while Cuba led in kills (59-50) and aces (7-6). The U.S. scored 37 points on Cuban errors while committing 33.
Neilson started the same seven players he had for the first two matches: Jake Langlois and Brenden Sander at outside hitter, Mitch Stahl and Jeff Jendryk at middle blocker, Arvis Greene at opposite, Jonah Seif at setter and Larry Tuileta at libero.
After holding off a late Cuban surge to win the first set, the U.S. Men fell behind 21-14 in the second. Neilson brought in outside hitter David Wieczorek for Langlois and opposite Kyle Ensing for Greene and the U.S. made a late run before Cuba closed out the set at 25-21.
Neilson left in his starting group with Ensing and Wieczorek to start the third set and later brought in outside hitter Jake Arnitz for Sander before the U.S. dropped the set.
In the fourth set, Neilson made wholesale changes, bringing Greene back in at opposite, leaving Arnitz and Wieczorek at the outsides, bringing in Scott Stadick and Price Jarman at middle blocker and bringing in Stanford senior Evan Enriques at libero. Seif stayed in at setter. Cuba was caught off guard and the United States jumped out to a 20-13 lead and held on for the win.
The only change Neilson made for the fifth set was bringing in Michel Saeta for Seif at setter. Cuba took an 8-6 lead and increased it to 12-8. The U.S. Men closed it to 12-10 behind Saeta’s serving, but Cuba pulled away for the victory.
Menlo junior Selina Xu, one of 20 players selected by USAV for the U.S. Youth National training team, began official practice at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on Thursday.
Xu, recently named the MVP with Vision Volleyball at the Junior Olympics, and the training team continue through Aug. 17, with 12 players to be selected for matches with the U18 teams from Brazil, Japan, and Italy ahead of the 2017 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship, Aug. 18-27, in Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina.