The USA and Dominican Republic guaranteed places at the Italy-Bulgaria 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship on Saturday, when they progressed to the final of the NORCECA Continental Qualifiers.
The USA beat Canada 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) and the Dominican Republic also enjoyed a straight-sets victory, 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-25) over Mexico.
USA and Dominican Republic will meet in the final on Sunday after Canada and Mexico have played off for the final qualifying spot and bronze medal.
The NORCECA Continental Qualifiers started on September 26 and finish on Sunday October 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The top three teams in the 10-team field will earn berths at the 2018 World Championship, while two more teams will come from a second NORCECA qualifier that will be held later in the year.
The USA’s victory delighted the 3,100 fans who had filled the arena. The team was led by Aaron Russell who scored 15 points, while Matt Anderson added 11 points.
“(Canada) has gotten so much better over the last four to eight years,” USA coach John Speraw said. “They have some good young talent and they’ve beaten us recently. I thought our energy and focus was there throughout the entire match.”
The Dominican Republic made a strong start against Mexico and remained in control for the remainder of the match with their blocking and defence to the fore.
Outside hitter Wilfrido Hernandez led his team with 14 points, and opposite Pedro Garcia and middle blocker Jose Caceres each added 13 points.
“This is the first time we’ve gone to the World Championships since 1979, if I’m not mistaken,” Hernandez said.