Coach John Hawks wasn’t holding back in his praise of setter Micah Ma’a following the U.S. victory of Cuba at the NORCECA Continental Championship.
Hawks, who also spent the last four years coaching Ma’a at UCLA, called it the greatest performance he’s witnessed from the three-time All-American.
Ma’a guided the offense to a .463 attack percentage as the United States swept Cuba 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 on Wednesday in Winnipeg, Canada, to win the Group B championship and earn a bye to the tournament’s semifinals.
The United States committed a tournament-low four attack errors in the de facto group championship between the two undefeated teams in Group B. In addition, no U.S. starter had more than one attack error and four players finished with at least five kills.
Former Long Beach State All-American opposite Kyle Ensing had a match-high 13 kills on a .632 attack percentage. Ensing’s All-American college teammate TJ DeFalco contributed nine kills, while former BYU All-American outside attacker Brendan Sander had seven kills.
Along with the U.S. pin-hitters, former UCLA All-American middle attacker Mitch Stahl had five kills and zero errors on a .714 attack percentage.
The United States held Cuba to a .109 attack percentage. It also out-blocked Cuba 9 to 2, including former Loyola All-American middle attacker Jeff Jendryk having a match-high four blocks.
Cuba in the loss finished with nine aces — one more ace than the United States.
Ma’a led the United States with three aces. The setter in the second game also had the game-winning ace as the United States rallied from an early five-point deficit to win the game.
With this sweep, the United States will have an off day before playing in the semifinals on Friday against the winner of the quarterfinals match between Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Cuba will play Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals on Thursday with that winner advancing to play Canada in the other semifinals.