Cuba made sure the United States would not have an easy path to defending its NORCECA title.
The United States suffered its first loss of the NORCECA U-21 Continental Championship as it was swept by Cuba 25-13, 25-16, 25-18 on Wednesday in El Salvador.
Cuba in the victory out-blocked the United States 9 to 1 and held the United States to a negative attack percentage for a majority of the pool-play match.
Outside attacker Abrahan Alfonso finished with a match-high 13 kills against the United States. In addition, Cuba outside attacker Osmany Uriarte had 11 kills and led all players with five blocks.
BYU incoming recruit Brenden Sander had a team-high six kills and was the only U.S. player to finish with more than five kills.
Loyola incoming recruit Jendryk Jeffrey and BYU incoming recruit Storm Faagata-Tufuga each added four kills in the loss.
The United States entered this match tied with Cuba for first place in Group C after sweeping Nicaragua in its pool-play opener on Tuesday.
The loss now moves the United States into a tie with Mexico for second place. The United States and Mexico will play each other in their pool-play finale Thursday with the winner being assured a spot in the quarterfinals.
With its win against the United States, Cuba remains undefeated and needs to beat last-place Nicaragua in its pool-play finale to clinch the Group C title and a bye to the semifinals.
The top three teams at this NORCECA tournament will receive automatic berths to the 2015 FIVB U-21 Men’s World Championship.