Puerto Rico Claims Gold at U17 Pan American Cup in 5-Set Thriller

COLIMA, Mexico, June 22, 2024. – Puerto Rico captured the gold medal at the first-ever Boys’ U17 Pan American Cup with a thrilling five-set victory (25-10, 23-25, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12) over host Mexico at the Multifunctional Auditorium in Colima.

Puerto Rico finished the tournament undefeated with a 4-0 record. Mexico took the silver medal, ending with a 4-1 record. Last year, Puerto Rico also beat Mexico for the U17 NORCECA Continental title.

Puerto Rico dominated Mexico with an impressive 20-6 advantage in blocks and outscored them 62-52 in attacks. Both teams had 4 service aces. Puerto Rico committed one more error than Mexico (28-27).

Puerto Rican captain and outside hitter Gustavo Alvarez led all scorers with 27 points (24 attacks, 3 blocks). Outside hitter Adrián Carrillo added 24 points (23 attacks, one ace), and middle blocker Dylan López contributed 12 points, 8 of them from blocks. Middle blocker Jorge Suárez also contributed with 6 blocking points.

For Mexico, outside hitter Emi Díaz led his team with 16 points, all from attacks, while Oskar González scored 10 points.

Puerto Rico started strong, dominating Mexico in every aspect to take the first set with a significant lead (25-10). The second set was tightly contested, with the score tied at 14, 18, 20, and 22 points. Mexico managed to tie with an attack by Emi Díaz, an ace from Tomás Villalobos, and another attack by Oskar González. After multiple ties in the third set, Mexico reached set point with an attack from Raúl Silva, but Gustavo Alvarez evened again for Puerto Rico. Mexico eventually won the third set due to a Puerto Rican error.  Puerto Rico controlled the fourth set thanks to the offensive contributions of Adrián Carrillo, Dylan López, and Gustavo Alvarez. In the decisive tiebreaker, the score was tied at 10, but two crucial points from Alvarez gave Puerto Rico the lead. They closed the set and match at 15-12 with a kill from Alvarez and a block by Dylan López.

Ignacio Cruz, Puerto Rico’s libero, said, “Mexico lost their rhythm but then regained it. This motivated us to push harder and speed up the pace of our game”.

Carlos De Sevilla, Puerto Rico’s coach, commented, “At this level, ups and downs are normal. Mexico came back from behind many times, and all credit to them, they are an excellent team. I’m very proud of my boys. In crucial moments, we were able to close out the sets. Mission accomplished”.