Cuba starts U21 Pan Am Cup defeating Puerto Rico

LA PAZ, Baja California Sur, June 8, 2022.- Cuba started the Women’s U21 Pan American Cup defeating Puerto Rico 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 29-27, 25-22) on day two of competition at La Paz Arena in Baja California Sur.

Cuba came from losing the first set in their first outing in pool A pulling off their first victory of the event that qualifies two NORCECA teams to the 2023 FIVB World Championship. In the second set, Puerto Rico kept the pressure as Cuba failed three-set points (24-20) and then another three before the close 29-27 finish for Cuba.

Puerto Rico concludes pool-play with 1-1 record and 4 points and waits for their final position to learn if they advance into the next round.

The final stats of the match show the close win for Cuba who led 48-46 in attacks, 14-11 in blocks and 12-11 in serves. Cuba committed 21 unforced errors and Puerto Rico with 25.

Cuba celebrates beating Puerto Rico

Cuban middle blocker Lisania Grafort scored a match-high of 24 points, including the most aces with 7 points, 13 kills and 4 blocks. Her teammates outside hitter Claudia Tarin and opposite hitter Yalain De La Peña contributed with 15 and 14 points respectively.

Three outside hitters led Puerto Rico’s offense, Grace Lopez with 18 points, Valeria Flores with 13 points and Elena García with 12 points.

Pool A resumes on Thursday with Cuba (1-0) facing Dominican Republic (0-1).

Lisania Grafort, Top Scorer of Cuba: “Our combativity helped us prevail over Puerto Rico, everyone did their part, they fulfilled their role on and off the court. Personally, I trust my team and myself to get good results”.

Rogelio Andrés Goytizolo, Head Coach of Cuba: “We faced a settled team on the court that didn’t hand out balls. My team is hungry despite their lack of experience, we are out of the ice of not competing internationally. Our middle, Grafort, was effective in serving and punished Puerto Rico over the net”.

Valeria Flores, Captain of Puerto Rico: “We’ve had two tough matches, today we weren’t as organized as yesterday in blocking; not all matches are the same and we are moving forward”.

José Rivera, Head Coach of Puerto Rico: “Cuba’s presence and strength was crucial, they served well, and we are suffering the consequences from yesterday’s five sets, some players are physically hurt. We battled up to the end and Cuba won by their own merit”.