U.S. can’t withstand Cuban serving bombardment, swept at World Championship

The pool of death continued to wreak havoc on the United States.

The United States was swept for the second consecutive day as it lost to Cuba 25-23, 25-19, 25-20 in a FIVB U21 World Championship opening-round pool-play match on Saturday in the Czech Republic.

With this loss, the United States (0-2, 0 points Pool B) drops to last place in Pool B and is virtually eliminated from medal contention. The United States entered the tournament as third-highest ranked team in the four-team Pool B, which was the only tournament pool that feature three top-10 ranked teams.

“I thought our guys played a lot better with a lot more heart and a lot more determination. That is something everyone can be proud of and hang their hats on,” U.S. coach Jay Hosack said in a postmatch interview with USA Volleyball. “Really to be honest, it’s not about trying to stay in the top eight [of the 16-team tournament] anymore. It’s about trying to finish in the top 10 which hasn’t been done in a couple of different rounds. If we can hang on and keep our heads about us, I think we can finish in the top 10 and have a pretty special event.”

Long Beach State All-American opposite Kyle Ensing in the loss had a team-high 14 kills, including a gam-high six kills in the opening game. This also was the second consecutive match that Ensing led the United States in kills after having a match-high 17 kills in a three-game loss to Turkey on Friday.

Ensing was one of two U.S. players to have more than five kills against Cuba (1-1, 3 points Pool B). Hawai’i outside attacker Brett Rosenmeier making his first start of the tournament contributed 10 kills on a team-high 55.56 percent offensive efficiency.


UC Irvine Freshman All-American middle attacker Scott Stadick also had four kills on five attack attempts.

Despite the loss, the United States had a better offensive efficiency 49.37 percent to 49.35. The United States, though, committed 21 attack errors — eight fewer errors than Cuba.

Cuba opposite Miguel David Gutierrez Suarez led all players with 15 kills. In addition, outside attacker Miguel Angel Lopez Castro had 10 kills against the United States.

“Cuba is a very good. A lot of high-flying offense, and very fast to the left-side pin, which is something that we’ve seen before,” Hosack said. “Hats off to them. They deserved that match.”

The United States has yet to win a game at the World Championship but had opportunities to avoid a sweep versus Cuba.

The opening game was tied 23-23, but Cuba converted on the next two points with a kill and a game-winning ace.

The United States in second game led 10-6 before Cuba went on a 5-0 run to move into the lead. Cuba also had three aces in its final 10 points of the second game to take a two-game lead.

Cuba finished the match with seven aces — four more than the United States. In addition, Cuba outside attacker Osniel Lazaro Melgarejo Hernandez led all players with three aces.

Hawai’i libero Gage Worsley defensively in the loss had a match-high nine digs, while his college teammate Rosenmeier added four digs.

The United States will conclude the pool-play opening round as it plays the defending World Championship gold medalists Russia on Sunday. Cuba will play Turkey in its pool-play finale and if it wins could advance to the second round of the World Championship.

The top-two teams in the pool at the conclusion of the opening round will advance to the second round. The bottom-two teams in each pool will remain in the World Championship but compete in the consolation second round.