Puerto Rico Earns Direct Ticket to the U17 Pan American Cup Semifinals

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, May 29, 2024.- Puerto Rico defeated Guatemala 3-0 (25-16, 25-13 y 25-20) and secured a direct ticket to the semifinals of the first Girls U17 Pan American Cup being held in Guatemala City.

Puerto Rico finished first in Pool B with an undefeated record (3-0) and advanced directly to Friday’s semifinals. Guatemala (0-3) will compete in the matches for positions 5 to 8.

Venezuela (2-1) finished second and Costa Rica (1-2) finished third in the group. Both teams will play in Thursday’s quarterfinals, with Venezuela facing Mexico and Costa Rica playing against the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico celebrates

Puerto Rico was dominant in attacks (28-19) and in direct service points (14-8). Both teams scored 5 blocking points. Puerto Rico committed 17 errors while Guatemala totaled 18.

Three Puerto Rican players scored  double digits, Kalia Alvarado with 13 points, including a match-high of 6 aces, Annalee Champion with 12 points, and Sara Lozano tallied 10 points.

Opposite hitter Melissa Guerra was the only Guatemalan player to score double digits, with 11 points on 7 attacks and a team-high of 4 aces.

Guatemala surprised Puerto Rico in the third set, tying the score at points 15, 16, 19, and 20; but their efforts fell short as the winners scored five consecutive points to secure the victory.

Annalee Champion PUR, attacks

Puerto Rico’s coach, Juan Carlos Núñez, spoke about the team’s performance in the preliminary round, “this is a group that is getting to know each other, there are eight players who weren’t at the NORCECA in Honduras, and they all had the opportunity to be on the court”.  He stated that in this game, there was a chance to use all twelve players, “I am evaluating them in this setting; it’s preparation for the World Championship, and now we need to raise our level of play for the semifinals”.

Guatemala’s opposite hitter, Melissa Guerra, explained that the team has started very cold in all the games, and today was no exception, “it’s possible we have the mentality that we can’t face the opponent and today we got into our system very late”. For the upcoming games, she said, “we need to give our best from the beginning, improve our reception, and have more confidence”.