PINAR DEL RÍO, Cuba, June 4, 2022 – The Dominican Republic got its first victory in the Norceca Challenger Final Four by beating Puerto Rico in a hard-fought tie-break with scores of 25-23, 16-25, 25-22, 23-25 and 16-14 to start the second day of this world qualifier at Hall 19 de Noviembre.
The match had many ups-and-downs, but the Dominicans pressed in blocking at key moments and tightened to close the sets, mainly in the fifth against a rival who never gave up, although it was dominated in the final stages of the partials in which they succumbed.
Corner player Henry Antonio López was the top scorer of the duel with 29 points, escorted by Henry Tapia (20) and Wilfrido Hernández (17).
For the Puerto Ricans, who added two setbacks, the most productive was striker Pedro Molina with 24 units, followed by opposite Gregory Torres (22), cornerback Pelegrín Vargas (17) and Antonio Elias Rodríguez (10).
Jesús Alexander Gutiérrez, Venezuelan coach of the Dominican Republic: “For us this is growth and learning, because those ups and downs are precisely due to that lack of experience. The most difficult thing at this level is to maintain and the work is for that, and this comes in addition, the positive result of winning the game, which is great for their mentality to continue to grow and this is part of our work and continue to grow for project ourselves”.
Henry Antonio López, top scorer of the match: “Team unity was the key to victory, we started to fight, served, blocked in decisive moments, that’s how we closed the game. In the attacks in complex one we were literally perfect, although once in a while they also worked well because of their offense on serve, but on that basis we were better. It was a super match, we knew how to keep up mentally”.
Gerardo de Jesús Sánchez, Coach of Puerto Rico: “Good game, we had it again, but we have to learn not to fail when the game is being defined, we had it there for two days and we didn’t execute when the truth was told and that cost the game. We have come with a young team, we have to keep working, because with these rivals you win and lose, but here they played better than us after the 20th point”.
Pelegrín Vargas, among the most outstanding: “We had a long night yesterday and although it is not an excuse, it would still be a complicated game winning or losing, we played on a streak and that consumes a lot of energy trying to come from behind and overcome two or three points, one gets more tired and there is a lot of physical and mental stress. We have to improve, with the group we have we can continue to improve, learning from these well-closed results, in which we could win, it hurts us, but we have to continue”.