Puerto Rico Head to Girls U17 Pan American Cup Gold Medal Match

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, May 31, 2024.- Puerto Rico advanced to the gold medal match of the first Girls U17 Pan American Cup after defeating Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-22) on Friday at Guatemala’s City Dome.

Puerto Rico reaches the championship game with a perfect 4-0 record and a 12-1 record in sets. The Puerto Ricans await their opponent, the winner between Peru and Venezuela.

Puerto Rico led in attack points (38-24) and committed fewer unforced errors (23-28). The Dominicans led in blocks (8-7) and service points (3-2).

Outside hitter Annalee Champion led her team to the semifinal with a match-high of 20 points on18 attacks and two blocks. She was joined by outside hitter Sara Lozano with 15 points on  11 attacks, two blocks, and two service points.

Annaelee Champion PUR

Dominican captain Estel Santos, with 12 points, was the only player on her team to score in double digits.

Puerto Rico quickly jumped to a huge 13-3 lead in the first set with points from Annalee Champion and Sara Lozano, combined with a considerable number of errors from the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico was always ahead in the second set, despite strong serving pressure from the Dominican Republic. In the third set, Puerto Rico recovered from a five-point deficit (15-20) thanks to three consecutive errors by the Dominican Republic, an attack by Champion, and another opponent error to tie at 20. The last two points were also on Dominican errors.

Rayni Mondesi DOM

Puerto Rican coach Juan Carlos Núñez explained that his team was able to play more steadily in this match. He said it was important that they could pressure with their serve and that his team was patient in the closing stages. “The team held on, and after many consecutive errors from the Dominican Republic, they were able to close the gap on the scoreboard, reacting with their serve”.

Puerto Rican captain Kalia Alvarado expressed that during technical timeouts, they reminded themselves to trust their game, “we did it and maintained a good spirit”.  She added that teamwork will be key for the final.

Marcelo Cezarano, coach of the Dominican Republic, said that Puerto Rico knew how to apply pressure, but mentally his team needs to mature, “it’s natural at this age, it’s a process, and things worked when they followed the game plan we had prepared”.