Cuba needed five sets to beat Puerto Rico and advance to Semifinals

SANTIAGO, Chile, November 2, 2023 – Cuba needed five sets, 3-2 (25-16, 25-21, 13-25, 22-25, 15-11), to overcome Puerto Rico and advance to the semifinals of the Men’s Volleyball tournament at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago at the Arena Parque O’Higgins.

Cuba will face defending champions Argentina in Friday’s semifinals, while Puerto Rico will compete in classification matches for positions five to eight, starting against Mexico.

Cuba outperformed Puerto Rico in every element of the game, including attacks (62-52), blocks (14-9), and serves (9-5). Puerto Rico scored 32 points from Cuba’s errors while limiting their own errors to 15 points.

Cuban Miguel Angel López led all scorers with 28 points (23 kills, one block, 4 aces). Also contributing to Cuba’s victory was opposite hitter Miguel Gutiérrez, who added 18 points (17 kills, one ace), and Alejandro González, with 15 points (12 kills, 3 blocks).

Ismael Alomar, PUR, serves

For Puerto Rico, team captain Pelegrín Vargas and opposite hitter Jamal Ellis led with 16 points each. Vargas contributed 13 points on kills, one block, and 2 aces, while Ellis all on kills. Outside hitter Kevin López added 11 points, on 8 kills, one block, and two aces.

Puerto Rico came from a two-set deficit, winning the third set with Vargas, Ellis, and López, jumping to a seven-point lead, and dominated Cuba without difficulty. In the fourth set, they tied at six points, but Puerto Rico quickly took a 15-9 lead and reached a sizable lead (21-16) to force a tie-break.

With a quicker game, the fifth set was tied at 9, despite Puerto Rico’s precision in blocking, Cuba closed with strength.

Miguel Gutiérrez of Cuba said, “We played a great match and made it to the semifinals. After winning two sets, we lacked concentration, but we were able to adjust and win”.

Jonathan Rodríguez of Puerto Rico stated, “We know that Cuba is a strong opponent, a team with a lot of height and strength. We have our own advantages in terms of reception and passing. They clearly dominated us with their power, serving, and blocking. I’m proud of my team and what we’ve accomplished and to move forward”.