Puerto Rico earns first win beating Belize

NOGALES, Mexico, May 25, 2023.- Puerto Rico earned their first win beating Belize 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-13) at the U21 Women’s NORCECA Pan American Cup on Thursday in Nogales, Mexico.  

In set two, Belize had a good run jumping to a 4-0 lead, but Puerto Rico managed to get- back on track grabbing their first win in pool A. Puerto Rico stands 1-1 and Belize 0-2.

Puerto Rico handled Belize with a huge 43-27 advantage in kills, 7-4 in blocks and 8-2 in aces. In errors, Puerto Rico finished with 10 and Belize with 17.

Opposite hitter Grace Lopez led Puerto Rico with 17 points on 15 kills and two aces, joined by outside hitter Elena García with 14 points on 12 kills, one block and two aces. Team captain Marcell Baez added 9 points.

Belizean captain Camara Fatoumata scored 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace and outside hitter Garet Bruce chipped in with 8 points.

On Friday, Puerto Rico ends the preliminary round facing Cuba and Belize goes against host Mexico.

Monster Block by Capatain Camara(14) and henderson Zalika (21) from Belize.

Marcelle Baez, captain of Puerto Rico: “We feel great with the team’s first win, yesterday we shook off the stress of coming here and adapting to the atmosphere. Today we had more energy, more team unity, we worked on yesterday’s errors and executed what we had planned. Tomorrow, we end pool-play, we have played against Cuba on several occasions in this category and it has been a battle”.

Ziane Henderson, setter of Belize: “I think we played better today than yesterday. We need to improve our defense, but mostly communication. Puerto Rico was very aggressive and that made the difference. Tomorrow it will be exciting facing the host with the support of their fans”.

Karmarie Velez, assistant coach of Puerto Rico: “Today we had a dynamic practice, with enthusiasm and joy, that’s what they brought into the match. We made some technical adjustments on court and there was progress. We are preparing to face Cuba tomorrow, they are tall, they defend a lot on the net, and we hope for a positive result because we have worked for it”.

José Fontes, head coach of Belize: “Puerto Rico studied us well, they neutralized our opposite hitter who scored the most against Cuba. This was a quicker game, and it was hard to organize our blocking. We are growing because of the level of competition”.