By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 18 – Cuba defeated team USA on Saturday night in four sets to win the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship and the last remaining slot to the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan on November 18-23.
The hard fought match saw Cuba overpower the defending champions of the last three years go 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-22.
Sixteen year old sensation Wilfredo Leon led Cuba with 24 points and was elected the tournament’s MVP; he was also rated the Best Spiker and Rising Star. The other Cubans on the all tournament team were Robertlandy Simon (Best Blocker), Raydel Hierrezuelo (Best Server), and Orlando Samuels won the Jim Coleman coaching award.
Team USA was led Saturday by Evan Patak with 14 points.
“The key to the victory was the consistency,” Samuels told the NORCECA website. “It is very pleasing for us to claim a victory against a team like the United States which has a great tradition in Volleyball,” he added.
Cuba won its l4th NORCECA title in the 21-year history of the regional event; the US has won the other seven times.
Puerto Rico finished third by defeating Canada in five sets 25-16, 24-26, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9.
In Osaka and Nagoya, the Cubans will face Brazil, Poland, Iran, Egypt and host Japan for the world title. The Brazilians are considered the big favorites to win but the Cuban team captain said, “We are going to give our best effort.”