Blaire Bayless MVP at U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 14, 2023.- USA’s outside hitter Blaire Bayless was named the Most Valuable Player -MVP- of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup that concluded on Sunday in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

Blaire Bayless received the recognition during the closing ceremony after the United States won the gold medal defeating Mexico in straight sets.

In other recognitions to USA’s players, Elizabeth Andrew was the first middle blocker and libero Ava Falduto the best receiver of the tournament.

The first outside hitter award was handed to Elena Garcia of Puerto Rico, who was accompanied by teammates Grace López as the best opposite hitter, Dariana Valencia the best setter and Ainoah Cruz the best libero and best digger.

From Dominican Republic, Katielle Alonza was awarded as the second outside hitter, Yalyn Firpo the second middle blocker and Ariana Rodriguez the best scorer and the best server recognitions.

USA wins second consecutive gold at U19 Pan American Cup

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 14, 2023.- United States claimed their second consecutive gold medal defeating Mexico 3-0 (25-8, 25-18, 25-18) at the Girls U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

United States finished first place undefeated (5-0) and Mexico in second place  (4-2). Last year the U.S. won the gold medal at home defeating Brazil.

The American team dominated 40-18 in attacks and 10-1 in serves, they also held a comfortable 8-2 margin in blocks, but handed out more points from unforced errors 23-17.

Middle blocker Elizabeth Andrew scored 13 points for the United States, on 5 attacks, 3 blocks and a match-high of 5 aces. Outside hitter Blaire Bayless also contributed in the win with 10 points on 7 kills, 2 blocks and 2 aces.

Mexico was led by Aime Topete with 7 points.

Calissa Minatee of USA blocks Tessa Trejo of Mexico

Julia Blyashov, captain of United States: “We brought it today; Mexico is a wonderful team, but we gave it our all. Each game we kept getting better and feeling more together. For me it’s my second gold medal in a row and it’s an honor to repeat this. We are excited to bring home the gold medal”.

Keegan Cook, coach of United States: “I am so impressed by what Mexico did during bracket play, so we expected a battle. We just wanted to play close to our best, which we did in the first set, starting off strong. I am thankful to see these wonderful athletes perform at this level”.

Luis Bañuelos, coach of Mexico: “USA’s margin of error is minimum, they attack over our blocking, and they are a more physical team than ours. This kind of competition allows us to prepare for other international events like the world championship which is close to happen.

Puerto Rico wins the bronze medal in four sets

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 14, 2023.- Host Puerto Rico won the Girls U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup bronze medal defeating Costa Rica in four sets 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 29-27, 25-12) on Sunday at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz.

Puerto Rico took the bronze medal with 4 wins and one loss, and Costa Rica obtained a historic fourth place 2-4.

Puerto Rico needed four set points before containing a resilient Costa Rica in the third set, to move forward and completely control the fourth and final set.

The hosts closed the match with advantages in attacks 51-40, in blocks 9-7 and the same margin in aces, committing fewer errors 29-32.

Opposite hitter Grace López of Puerto Rico topped all scorers with 27 points from 21 kills, two blocks and 4 aces. Also contributing to the win, middle blocker Victoria Sanabria with 12 points and outside hitter Chareika Carrion with 10 points.

Team captain Angélica Rodríguez with 20 points on 16 kills, two blocks and two aces; and Joselyn Moraga tallied 10 points.


Costa Rica celebrates winning set two over Puerto Rico

Grace López, top scorer of Puerto Rico: “We had ups and downs at the beginning, we slowly got united to obtain the victory. We kept a positive attitude the whole time and Costa Rica did well. The medal is a great deal for our sacrifice along with our families and winning it at home is a gift”.

Eduardo Galraza, coach of Puerto Rico: “We were up at the beginning of the sets, thinking of the win and in the fourth set I asked the girls to treasure the lead. Unlike yesterday that we couldn’t catch up with Mexico, today my middle hit the ball in, and our outside hitters were freer. We went to four because Costa Rica has a lot of energy”.

Edivaldo Bonilla, coach Costa Rica: “I am impressed with my team’s performance. They played the first two sets very well, and the third set could have gone either way and in the end Puerto Rico closed. We must go on gaining more international experience, even if they are young players, Puerto Rico has a history that strengthens them to be on top. It was a tournament of great level and we competed well, we dispatched a big team from our area (Dominican Republic).  

Dominican Republic takes fifth place over Canada

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 14, 2023.- Dominican Republic took the fifth place at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup over Canada 3-1 (19-25, 26-24, 25-14, 25-19) at Dolores Martínez Coliseum in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico.

Dominicans recovered from falling in the first set to end the tournament with a 4-2 record and fifth place, while Canada finished sixth 2-4.

Dominican Republic dominated in the service category 11-8, and Canada in attacks 42-38 and in blocks 10-8. Dominicans scored 38 points from Canadian errors and handed out 22.  

Katielle Alonzo was the leading scorer for the Dominican Republic with 19 points on 15 kills, two blocks and two aces. She was joined by opposite Ariana Rodríguez with 15 points on 12 kills and three aces, followed by outside hitter Yuseiry del Carmen Ramirez with 11 tallies.

Three Canadians also scored double digits led by team captain Taylor De Boer 18 points (13 kills, 4 blocks, one ace), middle blocker Ella Piskorz 14 points (8 kills, one block, 5 aces) and outside hitter Mary Healy 12 points (11 kills, one block).

Crismeily Paniagua of Dominican Republic sets the ball

Marcos Macedo, coach of Dominican Republic: “In the first set one of Canada’s middles scored on a sequence of good serves which destabilized my team, we were able to shorten the margin recovering our rhythm but there wasn’t enough time. We kept the rhythm of play in the following sets, we studied Canada well and the girls executed the game play to finish in fifth place”.

Christine Biggs, coach of Canada: “There’s been lots of growth from our athletes and our ability to prepare, to understand and execute a match plan. I think the piece for us moving forward is developing that consistency and our endurance at this level. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to get back to work for the next time”.

US Virgin Islands finishes seventh place beating Honduras

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 14, 2023.- U.S. Virgin Islands finished seventh place beating Honduras 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-17) at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Virgin Islands prevailed over Honduras 26-15 in attacks, 4-1 in blocks and 7-4 in points from serves. Both teams committed 38 errors.

The top scorers of the game were Jala Dixon and Anna Gillens of the U.S. Virgin Islands with 12 and 10 points respectively.  

Anna Gillens of U.S. Virgin Islands ready to spike against Costa Rica double-block

Isaac Raphael, coach of U.S. Virgin Islands: “I am so proud of the girls, it’s our first time here and the win is so important for us. Today the passing worked well and it helped us a lot. The team mostly improved in serve and serve-receive, we have something to build on”.

Alessandra Hernandez, captain of Honduras: “We are taking many lessons. We are a new team, we had never before been at an international event”.

Mexico downs Puerto Rico to battle for the U19 NORCECA Pan Am title against USA

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2023- Mexico defeated host Puerto Rico in four hard-fought  sets 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23) to battle for the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American title against the United States in Puerto Rico.

Mexico and USA will meet at 7pm on Sunday in the final match of the evento, while Puerto Rico will play for the bronze medal against Costa Rica at 5pm.

Mexico was inspired to take the close win that Puerto Rico struggled with all its players to obtain. In the closing of set four, Mexico stopped Puerto Rico with two blocks in a row by Topete and Marquez, allowing them to reach match-point (24-22).  

Puerto Ricans held comfortable margins in attacks 61-47 and serves 5-1, while Mexico held a slim 9-8 advantage in blocks but scored on 36 opponent errors against 18.

Aimé Topete was the best scorer for Mexico with 17 points (14 kills, 3 blocks), followed by opposite Luz Solano with 14 (12 kills, 2 blocks) and middle blocker Arleth Marquez chipped in with 11 points (9 kills, one block, one ace).

The top scorer of the match was opposite hitter Grace López of Puerto Rico with 28 points from 24 kills, three blocks and one ace; and team captain Elena García finished with 22 points on 19 kills, one block and two aces.

Mexico celebrates defeating Puerto Rico in semifinals and moving into the gold medal match

Italia Bernal, captain of Mexico: “We were focused, the goal was to win and give our all on the court. The key element was our attitude and the connection between us, and the fact that we didn’t allow the crowd to affect us. Tomorrow we’ll have the same fighting spirit up to the last point”.

Elena García, captain of Puerto Rico: “I believe our service and receiving could have been more effective, but we left everything on the court, and we represented Puerto Rico with pride. This still isn’t over, we have one more match left, the bronze medal match is tomorrow, and we are switching our goal”.

Luis Bañuelos, coach of Mexico: “This is a team eager to transcend, with identity, leaving heart and soul in their performance, proud to represent its country, seeking to do things differently”.

Eduardo Galarza, coach of Puerto Rico: “It was hard today, the ball didn’t score like in other matches. Our offense is always from the right side and today it failed. I don’t want to take away Mexico’s merit, they fought well, they are a team that likes to tip the ball, it affected us”.

USA defeats Costa Rica in three sets to reach the Gold Medal match

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2023.- United States defeated Costa Rica in three sets 25-14, 25-20, 25-6 to reach the gold medal match of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

This is the second time in a row that the United States reaches a final and will battle for the title they won last year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while Costa Rica is making history reaching their first medal match. Both await their opponent between Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The Americans held huge margins over Costa Rica, kills  (36-11), blocks (6-0) and aces (19-2), but Costa Rica committed fewer errors (14-27).

Abigail Vander Wal, outside hitter of USA was the only player who scored double figures, with 12 points on 9 kills and three aces. Blair Bayless contributed with 9 points and Loganlynn Parks scored 7 points, including a match-high of 5 aces.

Nhya Barley from Costa Rica ended with 4 points.

LoganLynee Parks, USA, spikes

Abigail Vander Wal, top scorer of United States: “Our energy was a lot better in the third set; in the second set we had miscommunications, and it just wasn’t going right. I’m sure we can keep our energy going into the gold medal match. We served tough in the last game and it’s definitely one of our strengths”.

Keegan Cook, coach of United States: “Costa Rica has had a wonderful tournament, in the second set they had a nice service-pressure, they didn’t stop playing after a difficult first set, so I give them the credit and our communication was poor. It was a nice response in the third set after I told them it didn’t send a nice message for tomorrow. I believe Puerto Rico is the most improved team in the tournament and if we face them tomorrow, we’ll need to do our best; it’s the match you hope to play in front of the home crowd. These are young teams and they’re learning the difference between expectations and aspirations, certainly many expect a lot from them, but this is just a small step in their careers”.

Keisy Fernández, setter of Costa Rica: “After losing two sets we lost energy. I think the United States had a lot of energy in the third set hence the score difference. Tomorrow we are coming with a good attitude to battle for the bronze medal, we are going to watch the other semifinal to prepare for either one. We want to win a medal for Costa Rica”.

Canada will face Dominican Republic for fifth place

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2023.- Canada beat the U.S. Virgin Islands in straight sets 25-12, 25-16 and 25-13 to play for fifth place against the Dominican Republic at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Canada fell to the Dominican Republic in the preliminary round and will battle on Sunday for a different outcome to take fifth place. While the U.S. Virgin Islands will meet with Honduras for position seven of the tournament.

Canada presented a different line-up to come out on top mostly from the service line with a 22-5 margin, and leading 23-18 in kills. Both teams scored 4 points from blocks, but Canada limited their errors to 14 against 26.

Canadian opposite hitter Abagayle Guezen scored 10 aces from her 19 points as the leading scorer of the match. Middle blocker Isabella Tehrani tallied 11 points and outside hitter Sophia Hansen added 6 points.

Anna Gillens led the U.S. Virgin Islands with 11 points on 9 kills and 2 aces.

Krystal Eddy ISV and Sophia Magus CAN, battling the ball

Misha Hameed, libero of Canada: “I am very proud of my team, we pulled out a strong win today and we like to continue building on our performances. I am looking forward for tomorrow’s match against the Dominican Republic, we’re looking to push ourselves to a new level and hopefully come out with fifth place”.

Jadyn Webb, libero of U.S. Virgin Islands: “Canada is a great team. Our team has made a couple of changes in the last days of practice, and we have adjusted to them. We are still working on minimizing unforced errors and we’re getting better each day. Tomorrow, we want to commit less errors in serves, clean up serve-receive and put pieces together to come out with a win”.

Dominican Republic will play for fifth place

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2023.- Dominican Republic will play for the fifth place after defeating Honduras 3-0 (25-9, 25-9, 25-7) of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Dominican Republic will face the winner between Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands for the fifth place of the tournament.

Dominicans beat Honduras in 56 minutes, with a huge 31-8 advantage in attacks, 7-2 in blocks and 16-2 in points from serves. The Caribbeans committed 13 unforced errors and the Central American a total of 21.

The top scorer of the match was Dominican Ariana Rodriguez with 16 points on 12 kills, one block and three aces, accompanied by middle blocker Julie Arias with 12 points on three kills, three blocks and a match-high of 6 aces.

Crismeily Paniagua, DOM, defense

Marcos Macedo, coach of Dominican Republic: “Tomorrow will be our final, we will come for the best result possible in the tournament which is fifth place. Yesterday against Costa Rica was atypical, they played well and battled a lot, in the end they deserved the victory. Now is the moment to study, look where we committed errors, and learn. All athletes have defeats, and they must learn to improve, maybe without a negative outcome, they couldn’t grow”.

Marvin Ulloa, coach of Honduras: “It was a bad performance; I understand my team being afraid of Dominican Republic because their level has dropped a lot. On the occasions we had control of the ball we were able to attack, we scored aces and we blocked, but they were afraid to receive. I believe we will face the U.S. Virgin Islands tomorrow, they are strong and tall, but with technical deficiencies, if my girls come with energy we can perform well”.

Costa Rica causes major upset to Dominican Republic and moves into semifinals

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 12, 2023.- Costa Rica caused a major upset defeating Dominican Republic in five thrilling sets 3-2 (20-25, 28-26, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13) to move into semifinals of the U19 Girls NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Costa Rica will face the United States in semifinals, while Dominican Republic will play the classification matches for positions five to eight. The other semifinal will be between the host Puerto Rico and Mexico, who earlier won their quarterfinal also in five sets to Canada.

Costa Rica had the personality and enough energy to keep the scores close dominating Dominican Republic who struggled to find their usual rhythm of play.

The Central American champions held advantage over Dominican Republic on multiple occasions during their performance, solving with a comfortable 13-8 margin in serves and allowing 36 points from errors. Dominican Republic led in attacks 53-21 and 11-10 in blocks, committing 33 unforced errors.

Costa Rican captain Angélica Rodríguez was the leading scorer of the match with 29 points on 25 kills and four blocks. Outside hitter Joselyn Moraga added 10 points on 8 kills and two services.

Dominican Republic’s top scorers were outside hitters Katielle Alonzo with 26 points on 23 kills and three blocks, joined by opposite Ariana Rodriguez with 23 points on 19 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Angélica Rodriguez of Costa Rica celebrates huge win of Costa Rica over Dominican Republic

Angélica Rodríguez, captain of Costa Rica: “The key to our success today was attitude. We never gave up. We were aware of the great team they are, the good players they have and their prototype, but we never stopped believing in ourselves. I want to thank my team’s effort; I was confident in myself and what I did was transmit that security and confidence to my team”.

Ailyn Liberato, captain of Dominican Republic: “Our game level was too low, because of our excess of confidence. Costa Rica had more desire to win, they wanted to battle more than us, they left all on the court, a respectful opponent”.

Edivaldo Bonilla, coach of Costa Rica: “As the tournament develops, the team is growing and looking better. Maybe from ten matches we play against Dominican Republic me might win one and it was today, a historic win for our volleyball. I want to thank all the coaches who have taught these girls from little, it’s a recognition to their work and today we are enjoying the win. Tomorrow we will face the best team of the area and we will come out to compete”.