Pedro Rangel the Most Valuable Player MVP at NORCECA Men’s Final Four

DURANGO, Mexico, June 11, 2023.- Setter and team captain of Mexico, Pedro Rangel, was selected as the Most Valuable Player MVP of the NORCECA Men International League Final Four that finished on Sunday at Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, Mexico.

Pedro Rangel was a key player for his team to win the championship undefeated and qualified to the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup.

Rangel received the MVP honors during the awarding ceremony along with other players of the champion team, they were Josué López recognized as the first best spiker, Victor Parra the award of second best blocker and Diego González the best opposite of the event.   

Dominican Republic, second place, lined-up the first best blocker, Luther Rosario, Henry López the distinction of best server and Enger Mieses received the awards of best libero, best defense and best receiver.

From Puerto Rico, third place of the tournament, Pedro Molina was granted the award to the second best spiker and best scorer, joined by his teammate Juan Ruiz as best setter.

MVP Pedro Rangel of Mexico

Mexico qualifies to the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup

DURANGO, Mexico, June 11, 2023.- After five grueling sets host Mexico beat Puerto Rico 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12) to win the Men’s NORCECA International League Final Four on Sunday in Durango and qualify for the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup.

The FIVB Challenger Cup is the qualifying tournament to the Volleyball International Nations League (VNL), the premier annual FIVB tournament that gathers the top 16 best teams in the world.

Mexico finished the event undefeated 3-0 for first place, followed in second place by Dominican Republic (2-1 and 9 points) and Puerto Rico third place (2-1 and 8 points). Guatemala (0-3) was fourth place.

Puerto Rico’s sizeable unforced errors (51 to 35) was a decisive element in Mexico’s victory, who led by a slight 9-8 margin in blocks. Puerto Rico was better in kills 54-44 and in serves 6-3.

Outside hitter Josue Lopez led Mexico’s offense with 17 points (16 kills, one ace), accompanied 15 points from opposite hitter Diego Gonzalez (11 kills, four blocks) and outside hitter Mauro Fuentes with 12 points.

On Puerto Rico’s side, team captain Pedro Molina was the match leading scorer with 25 points on 19 kills, two blocks and four aces. Opposite Klistan Lawrence added 14 points all from kills.

Victor Parra #5 celebrating

Jorge Azair, head coach of Mexico indicated “Puerto Rico knew if they could win 3-0 they were the ones to qualify to the Challenger, they came out strong in the first set and we were anxious. In the second set we were calmed down, we committed fewer errors and we got the serves on court. My guys showed their courage; they qualified to the World Championship and had a good performance, now they qualify to the Challenger to battle for the VNL, they are worth gold, I am proud of them”.

Head coach of Puerto Rico, Jamille Torres expressed to be proud of his group, “we didn’t practice that much, as we warmed up, we were much better and that was the goal. Our improvement is notorious, and we’ll be ready to defend our title at the Central American Games”.

Dominican Republic ends Final Four Men with victory over Guatemala

DURANGO, Mexico, June 11, 2023.- Dominican Republic won 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) over Guatemala in their last match at the NORCECA Men’s Final Four on Sunday at Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, Mexico.

Dominican Republic finished their Final Four campaign with a 2-1 win-loss record and 9 points; Guatemala 0-3. Dominicans will have to wait for their final standing after the result between host Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Guatemala kept the scores close, pressing the Dominican Republic but their 14-7 margin in blocks and 4-0 serves were enough to overcome the Central Americans’ spirited performance. Dominicans also led in kills 39-30 but handed out more points from errors than Guatemala (25 against 18).

Three Dominican outside hitters scored double digits. Wilfrido Hernández once again led Dominican Republic’s offense scoring 15 points on 14 kills and one block, Henry Lopez contributed with 12 points (10 kills, two aces), and  Hector Cruz added 10 (8 kills, two blocks).

Opposite hitter Erik Flores of Guatemala scored a match-high of 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks. Team captain Carlos Lopez joined in with 11 points on 8 kills and three blocks.

Chacon from GUA facing DOM blockers

Alexander Gutiérrez, coach of Dominican Republic said to be happy “we finished in the same second position as last year with a transitional team. We gained experience and we continue to give a chance to players to get experience with tournaments like this one. Our goal is to continue to add, and we hope one day to battle to be in the VNL in the future”.

Reider Lucas,  Guatemala’s coach indicated the team played well despite not having five players here “we came to compete, to develop athletes for the Central American Games. We are glad, we fought every single set, the team had a good level of play, but the other teams here have a much higher one than ours, with more experience and more maturity. The team did their job, we would’ve liked to win a set, but we were limited with our substitutions”.  

Mexico remains undefeated at NORCECA Men’s Final Four

DURANGO, Mexico, June 10, 2023.- Mexico kept their undefeated mark with a straight set win over Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20) on the second day of competition at the NORCECA Men’s Final Four at Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, Mexico.

Mexico and Puerto Rico will close the event on Sunday and with the current results, Mexico is only one set away from qualifying to the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup (VCC).

In the first two sets the score reached 16 points even before Mexico could prevail and play a third set jumping to a six-point lead (20-14).

Mexico was better in kills  (40-34) and aces (3-1); both teams finished with eight points from blocks. Mexico handed out 18 points on unforced errors and Dominican Republic 24.

The leading scorer of the match was opposite hitter Diego González of Mexico with 18 points on 16 attacks and two blocks. Outside hitter Josué López contributed with 13 points on 10 kills and two blocks for the Mexican win, as did Mauro Fuentes with 8 points.

Outside hitter Wilfrido Hernández was Dominican Republic’s best scorer with 17 points on 14 kills and three blocks.

Diego Gonzalez spikes against Dominican Republic

Mexican Diego González, the leading scorer of the match “Dominican Republic imposed their rhythm for moments and took us out of system. With patience we came out on top. Tomorrow, we want to win the gold medal, we are aware that Puerto Rico is not an easy opponent, so we will fight with our all”.

“We lacked focus in the beginning, it’s a big responsibility playing at home and even more for what we’re fighting for” said Mexican coach Jorge Azair. “The guys were patient, determined and brave. I am glad for the job we’ve done, and we still have one match left”.

From Dominican Republic, its top scorer Wilfrido Hernández said “despite the loss, we played well with a young team against an opponent like Mexico that battles strong. Today we used another line-up because we are preparing for future tournaments”.

Head coach of Dominican Republic, Alexander Gutiérrez spoke about their goal “we want more depth in our team, everyone should play because we are preparing for the Central American Games. Yesterday we won and today we didn’t, it’s a learning process”.

Puerto Rico earns first win at Men’s Final Four

DURANGO, Mexico, June 10, 2023.- Puerto Rico earned their first win at the 2023 NORCECA Men Final Four beating Guatemala 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) on Saturday at Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, Mexico.

Puerto Rico improved its record 1-1 and Guatemala is now 0-2.

Puerto Rico had to recover from a four-point deficit the entire third set where Guatemala reached atop 20-16 until Puerto Rico ended in a three-set win.

The winners led with a sizeable 44-29 advantage in kills, as well as in blocks with 10-4. Both teams scored three points from serves while Guatemala benefited from 26 opponent errors against 18.

Three players from Puerto Rico ended with double digits, led by team captain Pedro Molina 16 points (13 kills, one block, two aces), middle blocker Jonathan Rodriguez 13 points (9 kills, four blocks) and opposite Klistan Lawrence 10 points (9 kills, one block).

Guatemala’s team captain Carlos Lopez led his team with 15 points on 13 kills, one block and one ace, followed by opposite hitter Erik Flores and middle blocker Jason Hernandez with 9 and 6 points respectively.

On the last day of the event, Puerto Rico plays against host Mexico and Guatemala faces Dominican Republic.

PUR setter Garcia battleing the ball over the net facing GUA’s block from Chacon

Puerto Rico’s captain Pedro Molina said “this is a new team, with little practice and we are trying to improve, focusing only on our side of the court no matter who is our opponent. We came from behind to close in three sets still finding our rhythm”.

El capitán de Puerto Rico Pedro Molina dijo “este es un equipo nuevo, con poco tiempo de práctica y estamos tratando de mejorar, enfocándonos en nuestro lado de la cancha sin importar el rival. Venimos de abajo para cerrar en tres sets”.

“We are committing too many errors, it’s evident that we lack practice” indicated coach Jamille Torres of Puerto Rico. “The good thing today was that we came from behind in the first and third sets, we advanced with character. Tomorrow we are going to war against Mexico”.

Erik Flores opposite hitter of Guatemala expressed it was a good match and with good moments but “we lacked rhythm to close the sets, mostly in the third which we led the entire time, with ups and downs; the team here is not complete and we don’t have changes so new legs can come in to  stabilize the group” .

México earns a straight set win at NORCECA Final Four Men opening

DURANGO, M3xico, June 9, 2023.- Mexico earned a straight set win 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) over Guatemala in their opening match at the Men’s NORCECA International League Final Four that started on Friday at Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, México.

Mexico’s blocking (17-2) was the key skill to stop Guatemala who led by three points (14-17) in the second set and put pressure over the host country in the third.

México also led 36-31 in kills, but Guatemala was more effective in serves (5-1), while committing fewer unforced errors (15-18).

The leading scorers were outside hitter Josué López of Mexico and opposite hitter Erick Flores of Guatemala, both scoring 12 points on 11 attacks and one block.

Also, contributing to Mexico’s victory was Luis Hernández with 9 points (6 kills, 3 blocks) and Diego González with 8 points (7 kills, one block).

Guatemalan captain, Carlos López added 11 points on 10 kills and one block and middle Brandon Chinchilla scored a match-high of 4 aces.

On day two of competition, Mexico (1-0) will face Dominican Republic (1-0) and Guatemala (0-1) meets Puerto Rico (0-1).

Mauro Isaac from Mexico spikes facing triple block from GUA

Mexican captain Pedro Rangel said it’s not unusual to have ups and downs in the first match “after practicing for a long time and not competing there are things to improve for the next two matches that will be harder. Observing the Dominican Republic, we saw that they have height, their blocking is well established and in addition to attacking strong they put pressure with serves which is what we must do to have advantage over them”.

Jorge Azair, head coach of Mexico expressed “what’s important is the win, but tomorrow we need to work better because we had too many errors in serves, but we can’t stop being aggressive in that aspect of the game. We are beginning the season and we need to find our rhythm, our contact with the ball”.

Carlos López, captain of Guatemala spoke about the difficulties of putting the team together for the competition “some of our players couldn’t travel because of issues with their visa. Some members on our team have more training, but I think we looked good and that gives us confidence for the two matches we have left”.

Head coach Reider Lucas of Guatemala explained that his team is not complete, “some players had to be called at the last minute, with few days of preparation and we don’t have substitutions. Our goal is for the guys to play, to develop and to give a great spectacle, taking advantage of the opportunity of competing. I am confident in my team; we know how to compete and the fans liked the good match we gave”. 

Dominicans prevail against Puerto Rico to open Men’s NORCECA Final Four

DURANGO, Mexico, June 9, 2023.- Dominican Republic prevailed 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20) against Puerto Rico to open the Men’s NORCECA International League Final Four at on Friday at the Auditorio del Pueblo in Durango, Mexico.

The opening match was a close battle between the two Caribbean teams of the tournament, won by Dominican Republic who was able to push away until the fourth and final set.

Dominicans topped Puerto Rico on a comfortable 15-7 margin in blocks, as well as in aces (9-4) and scoring on 27 opponent errors against 21. Puerto Rico led 56-46 in kills.

Outside hitters Henry Lopez and Hector Cruz led Dominican Republic with 22 and 21 points respectively. Lopez on 12 kills, three blocks and a match-high of seven aces and Cruz on 19 kills, one block and one ace.

Three outside hitters of Puerto Rico scored 14 points each, Vidal Lawrence (13 kills, one block), Omar Hoyos (12 kills, one block, one ace) and Pedro Molina (11 kills, two blocks, one ace).

The Dominican Republic will face Guatemala on Saturday and Puerto Rico goes against host Mexico.

Dominican Republic triple block

Captain of Dominican Republic, veteran Henry Lopez expressed “I loved our first match, we hope for more victories. We had great communication, we supported each other the entire match”.

“It’s important to start with a victory” indicated Alexander Gutriérrez, head coach of Dominican Republic. “Despite the youth we have more consistency, which is difficult, we are still missing details, but we must continue to work. My players were able to keep up after losing a set, they didn’t lower their level and that’s a good sign of growth”.

Jamille Torres, head coach of Puerto Rico explained that it showed that they have a short time practicing, “I hope to go on and play a bit better; we had difficulties to start, I think we couldn’t recover from several errors, they served well from the floor and that made the difference”.

NORCECA Final Four a great way to kick off the 2023 season

DURANGO, Mexico, June 8, 2023.- Coaches at the NORCECA Final Four expressed that this is a great way to open the 2023 season which has great competitions ahead and battling for the ticket to the FIVB Challenger Cup will be a great challenge.

Streaming of the event available on Facebook Live Instituto Estatal del Deporte

Alexander Gutierrez, Head coach of Dominican Republic: “This tournament gives us the opportunity to evaluate what we are doing ahead of the Central American Games. Our goal is to prepare for the Games; if we can win this event, we will try to do so. The group has young players with some veterans, the team has grown and last year we finished second at this tournament. This is a year to grow”.

Reider Lucas Mora, Head coach of Guatemala: “This is the second occasion in a row that we are in this event, we are glad to be at this strong level of competition. We will battle every match and it will help us to prepare for the Central American and Caribbean Games, as well as our zonal event,  the Central American Championship”.

Jorge Azair, Head coach of Mexico: “This is our first event and for me the most important of the year because it gives us a shot of climbing to another level of competition, the FIVB Challenger. We have been training and now it’s time to see them play. We have seven official senior events, a tough year, we will battle hard the entire year”.

Jamille Torres, Head coach of Puerto Rico: “We’re bringing a young team making a transition of generation and with the goal of improving our level of play to repeat the gold medal at the Central American Games. We think we’ll have a great tournament and try to be ready for the Central American Games”.

Durango Sports Institute supporting NORCECA Final Four

DURANGO, Mexico, June 8, 2023.- The Sports Institute of Durango is welcoming the NORCECA Final Four event supporting the Mexican National Volleyball Federation and the NORCECA Confederation.

César Cárdenas Reyes, Director of the Sports Institute of Durango (IED) attended the teams’ preliminary inquiries with members of his work team to welcome the members of the NORCECA control committee and the four teams competing at the event.

Director César Cárdenas Reyes indicated that he and his team are committed to bring to Durango a highly competitive international event, “we are excited to host an event that gives Mexico the opportunity to qualify to another level of play and that the people of Durango will enjoy good volleyball. The entire Sports Institute is involved for this to be a successful event”.

The official welcoming for the participating teams will be at the opening ceremony scheduled before Mexico’s first match this Friday June 9.

Alberto Arreola, president of the NORCECA control committee and competition director expressed his gratitude to the IED Director and to the State of Durango in receiving an  event of great quality “Durango welcomes us once again with great professionalism, the authorities of the Sports Institute and especially its Director had offered all the necessary facilities for teams to compete at a high level of play and I am sure we’ll have three successful days of competition”.

Men’s NORCECA Final Four to start in Durango

DURANGO, Mexico, June 7, 2023. – The Men’s NORCECA Final Four International League will be held in Durango, Mexico at the Auditorio del Pueblo from June 9-11 with the participation of Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and host Mexico.

The NORCECA Final Four event is a qualification tournament to the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup (VCC) that offers the opportunity to qualify to the Volleyball Nations League the premier annual tournament of  the FIVB with the participation of the top 16 teams in the world.

Teams will face each other in a round-robin competition that starts on June 9, with the top ranked team at the end of the competition earning the ticket to the FIVB Challenger.

Cuba won the past edition of the NORCECA Final Four and then when on to win the FIVB Challenger Cup making their debut in this year’s Volleyball Nations League.

Competition Schedule

June 9

18:00 Puerto Rico v Dominican Republic

20:00 Mexico v Guatemala

June 10

18:00 Puerto Rico v Guatemala

20:00 Mexico v Dominican Republic

June 11

18:00 Dominican Republic v Guatemala

20:00 Mexico v Puerto Rico