U.S. rallies in fifth game to beat Cuba, advances to NORCECA semifinals

Photo courtesy of the FIVB and NORCECA

It took a massive fifth-game comeback, but the United States is moving onto the NORCECA Continental Championship semifinals.

The United States rallied from a 8-4 deficit in the decisive game as it defeated Cuba 25-22, 25-17, 24-26, 22-25, 15-12 in its group-play finale on Thursday in Charleston, West Virginia.

Former Penn State middle attacker Max Holt with the United States trailing by four points had a kill and a block on back-to-back plays to jump start a 6-1 run. Former UCLA outside attacker Garrett Muagututia during that run came off the bench as a serving substitute and helped the United States convert on three points to take the lead.

The United States in the victory out-hit Cuba .408 to .264, including having a .571 attack percentage through the first two games to take a two-game lead.


Former Long Beach State outside attacker TJ DeFalco had both a match-high 19 kills on a .412 attack percentage and six blocks. DeFalco also had a game-high four kills in the final game to help the United States secure a bye to the semifinals.

DeFalco was one of two U.S. players with double-digit kills against Cuba.

Former Penn State outside attacker Aaaron Russell contributed 17 kills and hit .556. In addition, Russell had the match-winning kill to cap off a 3-0 run to close out the match.

The United States out-blocked Cuba 17 to 7 and had six players with multiple blocks. Along with DeFalco, Holt added three blocks.

Marlon Yant Herrera in the loss led Cuba with 18 kills, while Jesus Herrera Jaime had 13 kills but was held to a zero attack percentage.

Both the United States and Cuba entered this match undefeated in group-play. Despite the loss, Cuba still advanced out of group-play and will compete in the quarterfinals on Friday.