PONCE, PUERTO RICO, August 13, 2023.- Argentina was proclaimed champion for the first time of the Senior Women’s Volleyball Pan American Cup, defeating, 3-2 (25-17, 25-22, 23-25, 19- 25, 15-6), against Puerto Rico on the final date of the twentieth edition of this tournament, which concluded this Sunday at the Juan “Pachín” Vicéns Auditorium in Ponce.
Argentina, led by Olympic (bronze, Seoul 1988) and world (bronze, Buenos Aires 1982) medalist Daniel Jorge Castellani, was able to resist Puerto Rico’s push to take the victory and the gold medal.
Argentina won the first two sets, but Puerto Rico, backed by a huge fan base, rallied dramatically in the third set. The Panthers were dominating the set, 21-17, and the Puerto Ricans came from behind to take it, 25-23. In the fourth, the home team dominated it to extend the match to a fifth set. Then, Argentina came out with everything to seal the victory in five sets.
Puerto Rico and Argentina had met in the group phase, and the result was for the locals.
Bianca Cugno was the best scorer for Argentina with 16 points, (14 attacks, 1 block, 1 ace); Paula Nizetich with 12 points (10 attacks, 2 aces); and Daniela Bulaich with 11 (9 attacks, 1 blocks, 1 ace). For Puerto Rico, Pilar Victoriá with 22 points (21 attacks, 1 ace); Alondra Vázquez with 19 points (18 attacks, 1 blocks), and Paola Santiago with 16 points (15 attacks, 1 ace).
This gold medal is the best presentation of Argentina in the Pan American Cup. Previously, they had won three bronze medals (2008, 2013, 2015).
Puerto Rico, for its part, adds its second silver medal (2016, 2023), and has three bronzes (2009, 2014, 2017).
Daniel Jorge Castellani, Coach of Argentina: “It’s a huge happiness. We have worked very hard. I’m happy for the girls. Resisting, that was the key in the fifth set. We knew that at some point Puerto Rico was going to play its game, that they were going to be supported by the public; but we resisted. We started the tie-break differently and we had control of the match”.
Victoria Mayer, Captain of Argentina: “I am happy for this group that has been fighting for a long time, has been growing, has been doing many things and today we managed to crown it with this championship. It is the beginning of a very long process. I’m happy for the team because they all contributed. The aggressiveness and with the determination that we entered to play, that was the key”.
Fernando Morales, Coach of Puerto Rico: “At the end of the game I told the girls that I am very proud of this group. This is the first year of the replacement and we have completed three finals in three tournaments, we cannot ask for more. Finals are 50-50, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We couldn’t win today, but we took three steps forward in this tournament because we beat the Dominican Republic, who had to get out of their heads and backs, and we reached the finals. The group grows playing in finals; win or lose, the group grows. I think from the beginning we were out of gas. We could not start. We took the third game at the end and in the fourth, they had a problem putting the ball in. We could never give 100% and it was understandable because we had fifteen sets in three consecutive nights and today five more. Also, in the fifth we were unlucky because the ball didn’t go in. For all the fatigue we carried, it was played well”.