U.S. captain Stanley Clayton spikes the ball past Mexico's Jorge… (Joe Klamar / AFP/Getty Images )
The U.S. and Canada men’s volleyball teams both remained unbeaten in pool play Wednesday, advancing to Friday’s semifinals of the NORCECA Olympic qualifying tournament at Long Beach State. The U.S. knocked off Mexico, 25-23, 25-19, 25-14 as expected, but Canada stunned an uncharacteristically sloppy Cuba, ranked fifth in the world, winning in straight sets 25-21, 25-17, 25-21.
To keep its Olympic hopes alive, Cuba will have to beat Trinidad and Tobago in Thursday’s quarterfinals, likely setting up a meeting with the U.S. in the semifinals. The winner of Saturday’s title game is the only team from the region guaranteed a berth in the London Games.
The U.S. started slowly against Mexico but rallied, finishing the match leading Mexico in kills (40-31), blocks (8-4) and aces (6-3). The U.S. scored 21 points off Mexican team errors.
U.S. opposite Clay Stanley (Honolulu) led all scorers with 14 points on 10 kills, three blocks and one ace. Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) added 12 points on 10 attacks and two aces. Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) totaled 10 points on nine attacks and one block.
Cuba, meanwhile, could not overcome its early mistakes, which included six service errors in the first set. Then in the second set three offensive errors by the Cubans paved the way for a five-point run that put Canada up to stay.
In Wednesday's other matches, Puerto Rico (1-2) swept the Dominican Republic to finish third behind Canada and Cuba in Pool B, advancing to a quarterfinal matchup with Mexico (2-1) on Thursday. Trinidad and Tobago (1-2) beat Costa Rica in three sets in Group A, sending it on to face Cuba (2-1).
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U.S. romps, Canada stuns Cuba in Olympic volleyball qualifier