Mexico reaches semifinals in dramatic five set win over Canada

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 12, 2023.- Mexico reached the semifinals with a dramatic five-set quarterfinal win over Canada 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 29-27, 23-25, 15-12) at the U19 Girls’ NORCECA Pan American Cup on Friday in Puerto Rico.

Mexico will face host Puerto Rico in Saturday’s semifinal while Canada will play for places five to eight.

Mexico and Canada put up a great performance, in a roller coaster battle. In the third set, first Canada missed two set points and then Mexico, in the highest-scoring set of the tournament so far. Mexico recovered from a seven-point deficit (9-16) before falling in the fourth, which forced the tie-break finish.

Canada lost to Mexico despite leading 62-52 in attacks and ending with a huge 20-12 margin in blocks but handing out 47 points from errors against 23. Mexico did better in serves 4-1.

Three players scored double digits for Mexico, Aime Topete led with 15 points on 12 kills, two blocks and one ace, Luz Solano and Ximena Cordero  added 14 points each; Solano (9 kills, 5 blocks) and Cordero (11 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace).

Canada’s team captain Taylor De Boer set a new scoring record in the event of 33 points, from 25 kills and 8 blocks. Trinity Shadd-Ceres contributed with 16 points on 11 kills and 5 blocks.

Taylor De Boer of Canada scored a tournament-high of 33 points against Mexico

Luz Solano, opposite of Mexico: “It’s exciting because it’s what we’ve all been working for and it showed on the court, our enthusiasm, communication, and the desire to keep on battling up to the end. For me, the ups and downs during the match were my nerves of what the game meant”.

Luis Bañuelos, coach of Mexico: “Canada was a great opponent and knew how to take advantage of the opportunities. The positive of the game is the energy of my team, they never dropped their arms and kept on battling. To move into the gold medal match I believe the team needs to focus better on following instructions, in the strategy and the tactical changes. We are going to help them to focus better”.

Taylor De Boer, captain of Canada: “Definitely a tough loss on this one. We all went out with aggression and I really think we fought through it, as well as Mexico; it was a good fight. We have more to give than we let out some moments, but we should be proud of ourselves. We’re still in a warrior mindset, going with whoever we play”.  

Puerto Rico headed to semifinals undefeated

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 11, 2023.- Host Puerto Rico beat Honduras 3-0 (25-10, 25-12, 25-9) on Thursday to reach the semifinals undefeated of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz.

Puerto Rico finished the preliminary round 3-0 and first place in pool B to advance into Saturday’s semifinals. Honduras 0-3 will play for positions 5 to 8.

The home girls were stronger outnumbering Honduras 36-8 in attacks, 16-2 in aces and 2-1 in blocks, committing 20 unforced errors against 21.

Outside hitter Chareika Carrion of Puerto Rico was the only player with double digits, scoring 14 points on 8 kills and 6 aces. Outside hitter Destiny Skerrett and opposite hitter Gabriela Machin, both coming off the bench for the second and third sets, contributed with 9 points apiece.

Outside hitter Monica Vasquez of Honduras scored four points.

Dariana Valencia, PUR, pass the ball

Elena García, captain of Puerto Rico: “It’s my birthday and what better gift from my team than moving into the semifinals. It’s a privilege to be in this position (undefeated and in semifinals), thanks to our hard work, our performance and I am sure we’ll do well up to the final. We are ready, very disciplined and we are  training hard, we will give our all as always”.

Chareika Carrion, top scorer of Puerto Rico: “Our best weapon was our passing, in addition to our outside hitter’s offense. I am very glad to be in semifinals for all our hard work”.

Rodriguez carries Dominicans over Canada with 29 pts

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 11, 2023.- On a new tournament-high of 29 points, opposite hitter Ariana Rodriguez carried Dominican Republic over Canada 3-0 (25-17, 29-27, 25-14) at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Ariana’s 29 points came from 15 kills, six blocks and eight impressive aces, where Dominicans missed two set points before a dramatic second set win. Outside hitter Katielle Alonzo added 11 points to the win.

Mary Healy and Taylor De Boer led Canada with 11 points each; Healy on 9 kills, one block and one ace, and De Boer on 8 kills and 3 blocks.

Dominicans prevailed on their powerful serves 14-5 and a comfortable 10-6 margin in blocks. The Caribbeans also led in attacks 33-24 and committed 23 unforced errors against 22.

Dominican Republic (2-1) and Canada (1-2) both advance into the quarterfinal round.

Dominican Republic celebrate a point against Canada

Ariana Rodríguez, top scorer of Dominican Republic: “In the second set we lost aggressiveness. We got the win with intensity in serves, we communicated well and dominated using the middles, we focused on our game. We want to battle for the medal matches”.

Marcos Macedo, coach of Dominican Republic: “We lost attention and aggressiveness, Canada took good advantage. Our strength is our passion and we didn’t give our opponent opportunities in the third set. It’s most likely we’ll face Costa Rica in the next round, our goal is to reach the semifinals that we are aware will be hard”.

Christine Biggs, coach of Canada: “It was an exciting second set, we showed some battle that we didn’t show in the tournament so far, opportunities for us to take the positive moments from this match and build on for the World Championship that’s coming soon. Disappointed that we didn’t maintain it, but we did some new things we’ve been working on. I think we´ve shown a lot of growth”.

United States claim their place in semifinals

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 11, 2023.- United States claimed their place in the semifinals of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup beating Mexico 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-17) at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

USA finished the preliminary round first place in pool A and undefeated (3-0), earning a direct ticket into the semifinals. Mexico 2-1 will play the quarterfinal round.

The Americans kept control, scoring on a 32-19 margin in kills, a huge 15-2 advantage in blocks and 9-3 in serves. They committed one less error than Mexico (18-19).

Outside hitter and team captain Julia Blyashov led the US with 12 points on 9 kills, one block and one ace. Middle blocker Calissa Minatee, playing the first and second sets, scored 9 points.

On Mexico’s side, middle blocker Arleth Marquez topped with six points.

Jaela Auguste, USA, attacks

Calissa Minatee, middle blocker of United States: “We had things in control the entire match and I was for sure confident we could take care of this match even if there were moments of uneasiness. Today we had really good serving pressure, Mexico was out of system a lot and when they were we were patient to care of things. The team gets along very well, we have a great connection once we get on the court. In the semifinals we expect dominance”.

Keegan Cook, coach of United States: “We are excited to be going on to the playoffs, I’m pleased the team has improved with every single match, they are more organized. It’s a young group and they need the experience. We’ve been concerned about our own side of the net but there are some players (opponents) we must pay attention to and we’ll shift our focus a little bit on them going into the next round”.

Luis Bañuelos, coach of Mexico: “United States complicated the game for us, they are strong and dominate the game system well. We tried to battle, we did the best we could, for moments we were on top, and the players fought up to the end. There’s an opportunity to reach the semifinals, but we are going one step at a time, and we will focus on the quarterfinals”.

Costa Rica moves into quarterfinals

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 11, 2023.- Costa Rica moved into the quarterfinals of the U19 Girls’ NORCECA Pan American Cup after defeating the U.S. Virgin Islands 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-15) at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

With the win, Costa Rica finished the preliminary round 1-2 for third place in pool A and advanced to tomorrow’s quarterfinals. U.S. Virgin Islands 0-2 will play for positions 5 to 8.

Costa Rica held a comfortable 30-17 lead in attacks, 5-3 in blocks and 8-2 on points from serves. The Central American team scored on 32 opponent errors and allowed 22.

Angelica Rodriguez, team captain of Costa Rica, led all scorers with 17 points on 14 kills and three blocks. Also contributing to the win,  outside hitter Joselyn Moraga collected 9 points.

Anna Gillens once again was the U.S. Virgin Islands top scorer with 10 points on 9 kills and one block.

Costa Rica celebrates defeating U.S. Virgin Islands to advance into quarterfinals

Angélica Rodríguez, captain of Costa Rica: “It’s an important win. We had faith in a good result because we prepared for it. Today we had a lot of energy and we agreed to give our best the whole time despite the difficult moments. Now we expect a neat performance, with confidence, looking to represent our country well”.

Edivaldo Bonilla, coach of Costa Rica: “We met our expectations, the best of the team today was its disposition and concentration despite committing 9 unforced errors in the first set; we made the necessary changes, and we played better in the next two sets. We are happy because it’s what we aspired for, now we wait for our opponent in quarterfinals and who’s to say we can’t”.

Isaac Raphael, coach of U.S. Virgin Islands: “There are a lot of nerves going on, the team is still not comfortable, they aren’t relaxing and playing. We made too many unforced errors, about 15 per set, too many missed serves and passes. This is our first time here but hopefully we’ll find our game, enjoy and relax, play and have some fun”.

Grace Lopez scores 26 points in Puerto Rico´s victory to Dominican Republic

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 10, 2023.- Opposite hitter Grace Lopez scored a tournament-high of 26 points in Puerto Rico’s victory over Dominican Republic 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 26-24, 25-12) to improve their record 2-0 in pool B of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Grace Lopez ended the match scoring four aces in a row to finish with a match-high of 5 points in that category. Grace was the only Puerto Rican with double figures.

Outside hitter Katielle Alonza was the best Dominican player with 18 points joined by opposite hitter Ariana Rodriguez with 10 points.

Puerto Rico dominated with a 41-30 advantage in attacks and 16-10 in serves, while Dominican Republic held a 9-7 margin in blocks. Both committed a similar number of unforced errors, Puerto Rico (32) and Dominican Republic (31).

Puerto Rico leads group B with a 2-0 win-loss record and will face Honduras to end the preliminary round and secure a direct ticket into Saturday’s semifinals. Dominican Republic will meet Canada, both stand 1-1.

Grace Lopez of Puerto Rico scored a tournament-high of 26 points

Grace López, top scorer of Puerto Rico: “We were close all the sets, but in the last set we gave our all to win. With a lot of practice, I’ve accomplished to have a powerful serve, I focused a lot to be effective with my serve at the end of the game”.

Eduardo Galarza, coach of Puerto Rico: “I believe our team’s effort in the third set when we had a double change and coming from behind completely changed the match, the girls were strong. Yesterday we studied the Dominican Republic a lot and we had the confidence, added that Grace came out to finish with four aces, she will be one of the best or the best opposite in the Caribbean”.   

Canada scores first win at U19 Pan Am Cup

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 10, 2023.- Canada scored their first win after defeating Honduras 3-0 (25-10, 25-7, 25-13) at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

Canada will close the preliminary round on Thursday against the Dominican Republic to secure a spot in the quarterfinal round, and Honduras will face host Puerto Rico.

Canada overwhelmed Honduras with advantages in every skill, 34-2 in attacks, 15-1 in serves and 5-2 in blocks, but Honduras committed fewer errors (21-25).

Outside hitter Mary Healy topped Canada’s scorers with 9 points, team captain Taylor de Boer chipped in 8 points and middle blocker Ella Piskorz tallied 7.

Middle blocker Natalia Aguilar scored two points for Honduras.

Taylor De Boer, CAN, attacks

Mary Healy, outside hitter of Canada: “I am really happy for the win after a tough game yesterday against Puerto Rico; we battled this game and stayed strong. Today we were more focused on our energy and fight rather than just staying in the match. Tomorrow we´re excited to bring great energy and the warrior mentality we’ve been talking about in practice”.

Natalia Aguilar, middle blocker of Honduras: “We are aware that we aren’t at the same game level as the teams we’ve faced. We have taken it as a learning experience and with a good attitude, celebrating each point to take out the best of this opportunity”.

Second victory for Mexico defeating U.S. Virgin Islands

JUANA DIAZ, Mexico, May 10, 2023.- Mexico defeated the U.S. Virgin Islands 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-17) in their second victory at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

On the last day of the preliminary round, Mexico (2-0) will face United States (2-0) for first place of pool A and to advance into semifinals. The U.S. Virgin Islands (0-2) plays against Costa Rica (0-2) to move into the quarterfinals.

Mexico depended on their serves with a huge 12-3 advantage to come out on top; they also led 31-23 in kills and 5-4 in blocks. Mexico scored 27 points from opponent errors and handed out 19.

Outside hitter Aime Topete led Mexico with 12 points on 10 kills, one block and one ace. Also contributing in Mexico’s victory were middle blocker Arieth Marquez with 9 points and opposite hitter Luz Solano with 6 points.

Outside hitter Anna Gillens of the U.S. Virgin Islands led all scorers with 15 points on 13 kills, one block and one ace.

Italia Bernal, MEX, pass the ball

Aime Topete, top scorer of Mexico: “The third set was a bit closer, but I think we did well because we organized what we had planned. Everyone contributed from their position. Tomorrow, we close against the United States and we need lots of concentration, but mostly trust ourselves”.

Anna Gillens, top scorer of U.S. Virgin Islands: “We did better today after dropping off the jitters  from the first game, we played better in serving and our defense was working out. As a team we need to focus on our serving and passing, making better decisions in offense and defense to advance into the next round, taking what we do in practice into the game”.

United States beats Costa Rica in second strong win

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 10, 2023.- The United States beat Costa Rica 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-12) in their second strong win at the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico.

United States is 2-0 and will close the preliminary round against Mexico for a direct ticket into Saturday’s semifinals. Costa Rica goes against the U.S. Virgin Islands for a chance to advance into quarterfinals.

The U.S. controlled the actions with their powerful serves 15-2 and a huge 30-11 advantage in attacks; they also led 7-4 in blocks. United States committed 21 unforced errors and Costa Rica a total of 28.

Outside hitter Julia Blyashov scored seven points as the U.S. best scorer, followed by outside hitter Kaci Demaria and middle blocker Calissa Minatee with six points each.

Opposite hitter Angélica Rodríguez led Costa Rica with five points and outside hitter Joselyn Moraga added four points.

Kaci Demaria, USA, spikes

Ava Falduto, libero of United States: “Costa Rica started the sets stronger, and our team is very new playing together, we’ve been training only one and a half weeks, so we are still trying to come together. I think we’ve doing a great job and our communication was rocky in the beginning, but it will step up as we keep playing together. I believe communication will be a huge part of our success in the next performances. We’re learning every time we step on the court together and we’ve done a great job playing together and for each other, our goal tomorrow is to close the preliminary round with another strong win”.

Rashanny Solano, libero of Costa Rica: “Today was about learning for us because the United States is a strong team. We are adjusting better as a team for tomorrow’s match which is really important to advance into the next round. I am confident that my team tomorrow will play well and the key will be the confidence in our game play, the energy; both teams are Caribbean and it will be a close battle”.

Puerto Rico prevails in straight sets against Canada

JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 9, 2023.- Puerto Rico prevailed in straight sets (25-20, 25-17, 25- 21) against Canada in pool B of the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup at the Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

The home girls kept up with Canada’s pressure to open the tournament with a win but on a  rollercoaster performance, coming from behind in all three sets.

Puerto Rico held a huge 42-24 advantage in kills and 11-3 in aces; Canada did better in the blocking 8-4 and committed fewer unforced errors 18-23.

Puerto Rican opposite hitter Grace Lopez scored a match-high of 22 points on 19 kills and three aces, followed by team captain Elena García who added 13 points on nine kills and two from blocks and two on aces. Outside hitter Chareika Carrion contributed with 10 points on 8 kills, two blocks and two aces.

Canada was commanded by outside hitter Mary Healy with 9 points.

Puerto Rico (1-0) faces Dominican Republic (1-0) on Wednesday and Canada (0-1) plays Honduras (0-1).

Dariana Valencia, PUR, setting the ball

Elena García, captain of Puerto Rico: “We worked hard the entire match, we worked under pressure, we united as a team when we needed to, and we did our best. We get going under pressure. Our strength was our attitude as a team, but there’s space to improve our communication”.

Taylor de Boer, captain of Canada: “It’s definitely not the outcome we were hoping for, there were a lot of rollercoaster moments, I guess we’re still figuring out as a team how we can play and work together and this is a test for that. Puerto Rico is a solid team, with a very aggressive attacking technique and I think that really got us, they were not afraid, and we must do the same. We need to play our game and our system”.  

Eduardo Galarza, coach of Puerto Rico: “The girls have prepared themselves, our culture in Puerto Rico is to work under pressure; the team performed better when they were pressured. Tomorrow there’s a strong sport rivalry with Dominican Republic, but we are good friends, it will be a good match; we will have a video session to study them, but we must start strong and not be under pressure to perform”.

Christine Biggs, coach of Canada: “Some ups and downs, there are some areas we are hoping to smooth out and clean up as we move forward, but I’m confident we’re going to be a better team next time. We got more to offer in our block-defense, there’s small adjustments to make for tomorrow’s match”.