U.S. Men Fall to Cuba in Four at Champions Cup

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | Aug. 23, 2019, 11 p.m. (ET)

Cody Kessel

COLORADO SPRINGS, USA, August 23, 2019 – The U.S. Men put up a fight, but Cuba was too tough and took a 25-19, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14 in a NORCECA Champions Cup match at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

The U.S. Men (1-1) will play Canada (0-2) in the round-robin finale on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. Cuba (2-0) will play Puerto Rico (1-1) at 1 p.m. MT. Matches are being shown live at https://go.usav.org/USAVwatch.

Related: OFFICIAL STATS | LIVE STREAM

From the start, it was clear that Cuba was on a mission on Friday.

“We think it’s quite an honor to go up against Cuba’s top team, maybe with a guy hit or miss,” U.S. Head Coach Matt Werle said. “But we looked a little intimidated. We didn’t play with the personality that we had for the last eight or nine days. It seemed like they took us away from that and that’s something I’m pretty disappointed about.”

Cuba and the U.S. Men tied in attacks (47-47). Cuba led in blocks (11-6) and aces (10-6). Cuba scored 29 points on U.S. errors and committed 22.

The U.S. hit .313 behind starting setter Garrett Zolg. Cuba hit .407.

Opposite Michael Wexter and outside hitter Cody Kessel, playing in his hometown, led the United States with 13 points each.

“They played a lot better than they did last night against Canada,” Wexter said of Cuba. “They were serving absolute rockets at us. They didn’t miss a lot, which is crazy because they were ripping the ball like 75 mph or more.”

Middle blocker Pat Gasman scored 12 points on 11 kills and one block. Outside hitter David Wieczorek finished with 10 points on eight kills and two aces. Middle blocker Nick Amado had seven points on kills.

Setter Garrett Zolg, who turned 21 on Friday, scored four points on two kills, one block and one ace.

Libero Josh Ayzenberg was credited with eight digs.

“I’m hoping these guys can bounce back,” Werle said. “I think they can probably view this as a missed opportunity because there were so many missed opportunities along the way in the match.”

STARTERS FOR THE U.S. MEN VS CUBA
Outside hitters: Cody Kessel and David Wieczorek
Middle blockers: Pat Gasman and Nick Amado
Setter: Garrett Zolg
Opposite: Michael Wexter
Libero: Josh Ayzenberg
Substitutes: Matt Yoshimoto (S), Matt August (MB), Greg Petty (OH), Ryan Moss (Opp)

U.S. Men’s Roster for the NORCECA Champions Cup
1 Josh Ayzenberg (L, 5-8, Long Beach, N.Y., Sacred Heart)
2 J.T. Hatch (L, 6-1, Mesa Ariz., UCLA)
3 Garrett Zolg (S, 6-3, Huntington Beach, Calif., Loyola Chicago)
4 Corey Chavers (OH, 6-4, Downey, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
5C Cody Kessel (OH, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton)
6 Matt Yoshimoto (S, 6-5, Ventura, Calif., Lewis)
7 Nick Amado (MB, 6-6, Aliso Niguel, Calif., Long Beach State)
8 Greg Petty (OH, 6-6, Downers Grove, Ill., Lewis)
9 Michael Wexter (Opp, 6-6, New Lenox, Ill., Pepperdine)
10 Blake Leeson (MB, 6-8, Mequon, Wis., Ohio State)
11 Ryan Moss (Opp, 6-8, Corona Del Mar, Calif., USC)
12 David Wieczorek (OH, 6-8, Chicago, Ill., Pepperdine)
13 Matthew August (MB, 6-7, San Clemente, Calif., Irvine Valley College)
14 Patrick Gasman (MB, 6-10, Clovis, Calif., Hawaii)

Head coach: Matt Werle
Assistant coach: Spencer McLachlin
Physiotherapist: Melanie Luck
Team manager: Kimmie Beach
Statistician: Michael Gee

Champions Cup Schedule (All times MDT)
All matches in SportsCenter 1 at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center

Aug. 22
1p Men: Cuba vs Canada
3p Women: Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic
5p Women: Canada vs USA
7p Men: Puerto Rico vs USA

Aug. 23
1p Men: Canada vs Puerto Rico
3p Women: Canada vs Dominican Republic
5p Women: Puerto Rico vs USA
7p Cuba vs USA

Aug. 24
1p Men: Puerto Rico vs Cuba
3p Women: Canada vs Puerto Rico
5p Women: Dominican Republic vs USA
7p Canada vs USA