Alexa Smith now has a Gold medal to add to her already impressive volleyball resume.
Smith, an outside hitter, helped the United States defeat Cuba with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-16) victory in the Gold Medal match of the Women’s U-20 NORCECA Continental Championship at Teodoro Palacios Flores in Guatemala City on July 13.
“It feels good to win the gold and to qualify to the world championship undefeated and without dropping a set as a reward for playing hard,” said USA captain Hayley Hodson in a press release. “We’ll now return to play for our own clubs and continue in our individual development as players.”
Team USA achieved their sixth NORCECA title unbeaten and without dropping a set.
The United States showed team effort while Cuba based their campaign on Melissa Vargas’ attacks. USA managed to defeat Cuba with a 32-26 margin in kills; they also led with a wide advantage in the blocking category by 14-7 as well as in serves by 8-2. USA managed fewer unforced errors (18-21) than Cuba.
USA was led by middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan who notched 15 points, 4 blocks and 2 aces included; opposite Hodson also combined efforts to the win with 14 points. Cuba’s outside hitter Melissa Vargas topped with 12 points, along with outside hitter Diaris Perez with 11 points.
USA’s coach Thomas Hogan expressed that this young Cuban squad reminds him Cuba’s national team “Morenas del Caribe”, “they have a bright future ahead; Melissa Vargas is a combination of Mireya Ruiz and Nancy Carrillo, she plays unbelievably well”. Hogan also praised Guatemala’s organizing efforts, “I’ve been to many tournaments and this competition was one of the best.”
Cuban coach Thomas Fernandez said of Team USA: “Technically speaking, USA is much more superior to ours and individually their players have great physical attributes.”