Cuba big block hands U.S. first loss at NORCECA championships

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.

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