A frantic U.S. comeback in the decisive fifth game came up short.
The United States cut an 11-3 deficit in the final game to two points before losing to Cuba 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 21-25, 15-11 at the NORCECA U21 Pan American Cup on Wednesday in Cuba.
Both the United States (2-1, 12 Points Pool B) and Cuba (3-0, 13 Points Pool B) entered this pool-play finale undefeated and had already clinched spots in the medal round. Cuba with this victory clinched the Pool B championship and a bye to the semifinals.
Cuba out-hit the United States .241 to .221 in the match-up between the top-two offenses at the international tournament. This was the first time in pool-play that both the United States and Cuba were held to less than .300 attack percentage.
BYU outside attacker Trent Moser finished with a match-high 23 kills on a .304 attack percentage. Moser, though, was the only U.S. player to have double-digit kills against Cuba.
Cuba had three players with more than 10 kills, including opposite Alejandro MIguel Gonzalez Rodriguez who led all players with 23 kills.
The United States despite the loss out-blocked Cuba 16 to 10 with Stanford outside attacker Alex Rottman having a match-high five blocks. Princeton middle attacker Nyerovwome Omene also contributed four blocks, while Penn State middle attacker Owen Rose had three blocks.
Penn State libero Ryan Merk led the United States with 18 digs. In addition, the 2023 Steve Shondell recipient as the top passer in NCAA men’s volleyball was second on the team with 12 excellent service receptions and had one reception error.
The United States will play the Dominican Republic (1-2, 5 points Pool A) in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Dominican Republic swept Haiti to open the international tournament but then suffered three-game losses to both Canada and Puerto Rico.