TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, November 25, 2023. – Mexico qualified to the 2024 FIVB World Championship and the gold medal match of the NORCECA Girls’ Under-17 Continental Championship defeating Canada 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-16) on Saturday in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Mexico earned one of the three tickets to the 2024 World Championship and will compete for gold against Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Canada will vie for the bronze medal against the loser and the last ticket to the World Championship.
Mexico prevailed with a 50-41 advantage in kills and 7-4 aces. Canada outperformed Mexico in blocks 9-5. Mexico conceded 30 points on unforced errors, while Canada had 35.
Mexican opposite hitter, Yliana Zuñiga, led all scorers with 21 points on 19 kills, one block, and one ace. Team captain Aitana Tanguma and middle blocker Kiara Ramirez contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.
For Canada, outside hitters Natalie Wahlgren and Alexia Corneo scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. Middle blocker Dara Obeid added 10 points.
Mexico recovered from a four-point deficit (0-4) at the start of the first set, later they went on trading points with Canada and closed with a comfortable five-point lead.
Mexico won the second set dramatically with an attack from Brenda Esquivel after losing four set points due to a service error, two powerful attacks, and a block from Canada.
Canada took a four-point lead in the third set (11-7) and won with a kill from Natalie Wahlgren, despite losing two set points due to a service error and an ace from Mexico.
Mexico started the fourth set with a six-point lead (13-7), and with the offense led by Zúñiga, along with Esquivel and Tanguma, maintained the advantage until the end, winning the match with a service error from Canada.
Ignacio Sánchez, Head coach of Mexico expressed “We reached the goal to qualify to Worlds, we still have the gold medal in mind. I think losing to Puerto Rico in pool-play taught us a lot. Today Mexico did a good job in defense, we were more decisive in other matches, but today we played with intelligence, knowing that Canada is very disciplined and they don’t give away points easily”.
Megan Hunter, captain of Canada said “Even though we didn’t end up winning, we’re going to keep up pulling the pedal because we still got a chance to qualify for the World Championship. Tomorrow we’re going to play as hard as we can. I think our confidence wasn’t there today and we can always improve communication”.