U.S. block dominant, sweeps Cuba to reach to U19 NORCECA semifinals

Photo courtesy of the FIVB and NORCECA

Middle attacker Roman Payne delivered the top defensive performance of the tournament to put the United States in the semifinals of the U19 NORCECA Continental Championship.

Payne led all players with a tournament-high nine blocks as the United States swept Cuba 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 on Thursday in Ponce, Puerto Rico to win the Group A title and a bye to the semifinals.

The middle attacker had a game-high four blocks in the third game, including back-to-back blocks to close out the group-play finale. Payne also had three blocks in the opening game and had a block early in the game that jump started a 5-0 run.


The United States finished with 16 blocks – 12 more blocks than Cuba.

Along with Payne, outside attacker Aleksey Mikhailenko contributed three blocks and middle attacker Luc Soerensen had two blocks.

The United States en route to its third consecutive win to open the tournament out-hit Cuba .317 to .114. In addition, the United States limited Cuba to less than a .075 attack percentage in each of the final two games.

Mikhailenko ended with both a match-high three aces and 10 kills on a .533 attack percentage. Outside attacker Grant Lamoureux also had seven kills and hit .429 against Cuba.

Outside attacker Fuentes Alessandro Gonzalez in the loss finished with a team-high eight kills and was the only Cuban player to have more than three kills and hit more than .100.

Both the United States and Cuba entered this de facto Group A championship match undefeated in group-play. In addition, the two teams had already clinched berths to the quarterfinals.