Puerto Rico just could not close out Canada.
Canada overcame two match-points to force a fifth-game overtime and then another match-point in the overtime before rallying to beat Puerto Rico 26-28, 27-25, 22-25, 25-19, 19-17 in its pool-play opener of the NORCECA U21 Pan American Cup on Monday in Cuba.
North Greenville opposite Gregory Torres in the loss finished with a match-high 22 kills. The former Freshman All-American also had a game-high five kills in the decisive fifth game, but with Puerto Rico facing a match-point Canada outside attacker Jacob Sargent blocked a Torres kill attempt to end the match.
Canada out-hit a Puerto Rican team primarily comprised of NCAA players .348 to .266.
Sargent led the team with 22 kills on a .415 attack percentage and was one of four Canadian players with double-digit kills in the victory. In addition, opposite Brendan Mills contributed 14 kills, and middle attacker Cory Schoenherr had 12 kills on a team-best .625 attack percentage.
Torres and NJIT outside attacker Antonio Feliciano were the only two Puerto Ricans with double-digit kills. Feliciano finished with 13 kills, including having four kills in the opening game.
Setter Mason Graves along with guiding the Canadian offense had a match-high four aces as the team finished with 10 aces – three more aces than Puerto Rico.
Purdue Fort Wayne outside attacker Axel Melendez Watts led Puerto Rico with two aces. Stevens setter Sebastian Huyke coming off the bench also had a game-winning ace in overtime to secure the opening-game win for Puerto Rico.
Canada with this win moves into second place in the Pool A, while Puerto Rico drops into third place after the opening day of matches.
The top three teams in the four-team pool at the end of round-robin play will advance to the medal round.