Day two of competition in the Dominican Republic featured tight competition between men from Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The only difference between those nations and those competing in the women's semi-finals was the qualification of Mexico, where the United States qualified for the women. It goes to show that early in the season, these nations have shown, at least amongst NORCECA competition, that they mean business.
The semi-finals had Canada competiting with Puerto Rico, and Mexico against Cuba. The format, as with the women, is a bit different from typical tournaments. Two teams from each nation, an A and B squad, move forward in the tournament together. For example, Canada A-Team plays Puerto Rico B-Team, and Canada B plays Puerto Rico A. After that, both B-Teams compete, followed by the A-Teams competing in the all-important final match (should it still be up for grabs).
Canada's A-Team, represented by Christian Redmann and Ben Saxton, had no issues with their Puerto Rican competition. They won both of their matches in two sets, leaving Canada's B-Team with only one win necessary for Canada to move on. Martin Reader and Chaim Schalk, who represent the B-Team, managed that win, but in unexpected fashion. While they couldn't manage a win against the lesser squad, they did take Puerto Rico A-Team in three sets. Eventually, they won the deciding set 15-11. With the wins, Canada moves on to the finals.
In the other semi-final, Cuba and Mexico fought for the final spot in the gold medal match. There was little doubt at the result, and Cuba made it easy by winning their first three matches consecutively. The fourth match was only for show, which Mexico did manage to salvage. However, Cuba's teams of Karel Pina/Javier Jimenez and Yaniel Escobar/Yaimel Borrell will move on to compete against Canada in the finals, held on Friday.
For both the women and the men, the finals will be Cuba vs. Canada. This Dominican Republic Event holds important Olympic Qualifying points for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and our nation's representation has made their country proud by placing themselves in such an ideal situation.
Check back with Kill on Two for women's coverage Thursday, and men's final coverage on Friday.
Canada 3, Puerto Rico 1
CAN-A d. PUR-B (21-18, 26-24)
CAN-B d. PUR-A (21-19, 17-21, 15-11)
PUR-B d. CAN-B (21-16, 21-16)
CAN-A d. PUR-A (27-25, 21-18)
Cuba 3, Mexico 1
CUB-A d. MEX-B (21-18, 21-18)
CUB-B d. MEX-A (21-19, 21-12)
CUB-A d. MEX-A (22-20, 28-26)
MEX-B d. CUB-B (21-18, 18-21, 19-17)