Remarkable win for Puerto Rico to conquer the championship at NORCECA Women’s Final Four

PONCE, Puerto Rico, June 9th, 2024.- Puerto Rico won an exciting four set match to Mexico in front of a passionate home crowd, to become NORCECA Women’s Final Four Champions at the Salvador Dijols Coliseum in Ponce. The match finished 3-1 for the locals with score of 25-20, 25-20, 19-25, 27-25

This is the second title in a row for Puerto Rico in this event and their fourth medal overall (2 golds, one silver and one bronze). For Mexico, it’s their third podium and their first silver medal in the Final Four. Mexico won the gold in 2022 and bronze in 2019.

Paola Santiago PUR

A well balanced first two sets for Puerto Rico and Mexico but Puerto Rico’s strategy worked out at the end to win both sets 25-20. In the third set, a resilient Mexico came back from a  4-point deficit to tie the set 11-11. Mexico led all the way ending the third set in their favor by a score of 25-19. A nail-biting battle took place in the fourth set that led to extra points. The set ended with a monster block by Puerto Rican Neira Ortiz and score of 27-25.

Uxuel Amaya Guereca MEX

Mexico led by a slight 53-52 in attacks, but both teams were even in blocks (7-7) and serves (4-4). Mexico committed a total of 33 unforced errors while Puerto Rico committed 26.

Outside hitter Paola Santiago was the top scorer for Puerto Rico with 14 points (11 attacks, one  block and 2 aces) followed by middle blocker Diana Reyes with 13 points (9 attacks and 4 blocks). For Mexico, the best scorers were opposite Marian Ovalle with 16 points (13 attacks and 3 blocks) and outside hitter Uxue Guereca with 16 points (13 attacks and 3 blocks).

Head Coach of Puerto Rico – Juan Carlos Núñez: Winning at home is very rewarding. This tournament gave me the opportunity to evaluate some athletes that are new to the national team and gives me an idea of what I can expect in the next events we have in our calendar. Mexico is a team that knows how to play the game, very controlled and analytic but I told the girls that we needed to be patient to close the sets and we did. We need to keep working, strengthen our serve and see what other players can join the team for the next tournaments, especially the Final Six and the FIVB Challenger.

Top Scorer of Puerto Rico – Paola Santiago: I have no words to describe how it feels to play at home in front of our fans that support us in each game. A lot of emotions but very happy that we won the match and the championship. Mexico is a team that has a fast game, very good defense but our blocking and defense combination was that help us the most to achieve our goal. For the next events we need to improve our team tactics since we are a new team, and we need to adapt to each other.

Head coach of Mexico – Nicola Negro: A match in which we started bad in the first sets, with a weak discipline and tactic which led us to commit a lot of unforced errors. At the third set we improve our serve and adjust our blocking-defense system to control Puerto Rico’s attacks. At the end we lost a lot of opportunities to force a tie break. Now we will focus on the Final Six where we will find more teams and we will be able to get more experience and grow as a team.

Best scorer of Mexico – Marian Ovalle: a little frustrated on how the fourth set ended but I’m very happy to know that we can improve and be ready for the next tournament. We need to start playing well from the first set and focus. Mentally we were not focused and made many mistakes especially in the serve and we need to focus on us for the upcoming events.