Puerto Rico bounced back from first set loss and wins the NORCECA Men’s Final Four Championship

PONCE, Puerto Rico, June 16th, 2024.- Led by an outstanding performance of Pedro Molina, Puerto Rico bounced back from losing the first set to Mexico and won the NORCECA Men’s Final Four in Salvador Dijols Coliseum in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico defeated Mexico 3-1 with scores 23-25, 25-14, 25-22 and 25-21.

Puerto Rico won the gold medal undefeated (3-0), while Mexico ended with one win, two losses and in third place. Dominican Republic with a 2-1 record finished in second place.

Pedro Molina PUR block

Mexico came focused and were in control of the first set involved offensively and defensively to win 25-23. Puerto Rico took the time between sets to adjust the game tactics and overpowered Mexico with their serves and consistent attacks. Mexico tried to battle the home team in the following sets, but Puerto Rico displayed enhanced performance during the rest of the match winning the next two sets 25-22 and 25-21 and winning the gold medal.

Puerto Rico performed better in attacks 49-45, blocks 9-7 and serves 10-2, committing fewer errors than Mexico 28-30.

Outside hitter Pedro Molina from Puerto Rico was the top scorer of the match with 22 points (15 kills, 1 block and 6 aces) followed by teammate and opposite hitter Klistan Lawrence with 19 points (14 kills, 2 blocks and 3 aces). The top scorers for Mexico were captain and outside hitter Mauro Fuentes with 13 points (12 kills and an ace) and middle blocker Axel Tellez Rodríguez with 12 points (9 kills, 2 blocks and an ace).

Head Coach of Puerto Rico – Alberto Jamille Torres: with Mexico it is always a war, we knew it was not going to be easy. I think that in the first set we started a little anxious, making a lot of mistakes, but we managed to clean up our game and get a good result. This is a young group although they have experience at the international level and playing in front of our fans gives you a plus and it was nice to win at home. Now to rest a little and prepare for the Pan American Cup in the Dominican Republic. This was a great stage to test ourselves, see where we are and what things we should improve.

Klistan Lawrence – Opposite of Puerto Rico: It was a difficult match; Mexico came to play well. We felt good about the environment, the fans, the trust and this worked for us. Playing at home helped, we stayed together following the instructions of our coaches and we ended up getting the victory. Now for our next tournament, which is the Pan American Cup, I think the most important thing in order to perform well is to keep practicing and gain more confidence.

Mexico coach – Carlos Schwanke: after three games we started to get to a better level. We began to obtain better results; the boys began to change the strategy of the game and we managed to put a little pressure on Puerto Rico. It was a good game for us and the champions. We must build a pattern and have a little more time to work together plus we need to improve our attack. Soon we will be traveling to China for the FIVB Challenger Cup, which is a very big challenge for us, and this helped us evaluate ourselves.

Axel Tellez Rodríguez – middle blocker from Mexico: as always, the match with Puerto Rico is something you need to see, with high-level players just like us. This time the game was in their favor being at home. We have a lot to improve. We are working with new coaches, and new technical staff. We must move on, see defeats as an experience and move on. We have a lot to improve in all aspects of volleyball, both technically and physically, and be prepared for our next commitment, which is the FIVB Challenger Cup.