Argentina Ung named MVP at NORCECA Women’s Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 19, 2022.- Mexican setter Argentina Ung was named the Most Valuable Player MVP after her team won the NORCECA Women’s Final Four Qualification Tournament on Sunday in Nogales, Sonora.

By winning the NORCECA Final Four, Mexico qualified to the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup that grants a berth to the International Volleyball Nations League.

Argentina Ung also received the award for Best Setter, along with other teammates that were recognized for their individual performances; with Samantha Bricio as second Best Spiker, Karina Flores and Jocelyn Urias as first and second blockers respectively. Joseline Landeros was handed the award for Best Receiver.

Cuba’s Dezirett Madan was named the Best Opposite Hitter, Thainalien Castillo the first Best Spiker and Claudia Tarin the Best Server.

Victoria Sofía was the Best Scorer and Paula Cerame was granted the awards for Best Libero and Best Digger; both from Puerto Rico.

Individual Awards Women’s NORCECA Final Four Qualification Tournament

Mexico qualifies to FIVB Challenger Cup winning NORCECA Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 19, 2022.- Mexico qualified to the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup winning the NORCECA Women’s Final Four defeating Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) on Sunday at Nogales, Sonora.

Mexico concluded the event with a perfect 3-0 record and 15 points, Cuba (2-1) finished in second place with 10 points and Puerto Rico (1-2) third place with 5 points.

Mexico held a 38-33 advantage in kills, a 9-7 margin in blocks and a slim 2-1 in serves. Mexico scored on 26 errors of Puerto Rico and handed out 19.

Middle blocker Karina Flores led Mexico’s offensive with 14 points, leading with 6 blocks, followed by outside hitter Samantha Bricio with 10 points and outside hitter Sofía Maldonado added 9 points.

Two players scored double-digits for Puerto Rico, outside hitter and team captain Sofía Victoria with 14 points and outside hitter Valeria Vazquez with 11 points. 

Match action Mexico vs Puerto Rico

Karina Flores, Top scorer of Mexico: “At the beginning we were measuring the ground, on hold and that’s why it was a bit slow. We adjusted, started the race and won. Our coach has a clear objective and has coached us well in winning. The Challenger Cup is a great challenge and we will be committed to prepare ourselves. Mexico’s strength was team work”.

Rafael Petry, Head Coach of Mexico: “The team reached the objective, they are starting to compete at a higher level and not only participating. They worked under pressure because it was practically a final, it’s good for them to do so and reach the result. We will continue with serious work to compete at the Challenger Cup and not go only to participate”.

Cuba tops Costa Rica in straight sets at NORCECA Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 19, 2022.- Cuba topped Costa Rica in straight sets 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-15) at the NORCECA Women’s Final Four Qualification Tournament on Sunday in Nogales, Sonora.

Cuba finished the event with 2-1 record and 10 points and will have to wait for their final position after the result between Mexico and Puerto Rico. Costa Rica finished 0-3.

Cuba outnumbered Costa Rica by a huge 14-2 margin in blocks, 38-29 in attacks, as well as a 5-1 margin in serves. Cuba committed fewer unforced errors (13-18) than Costa Rica.

Cuban captain Thainalien Castillo Leyva produced 11 points on 8 kills, one block and two aces, accompanied by opposite hitter Dezirett Madain with 10 points on 7 kills, two blocks and one ace, and outside hitter Claudia Tarin with 9 points.

Outside hitter Tamara Espinoza led Costa Rica with 7 points all on kills, opposite hitter Ana Victoria Rojas and outside hitter Maria Sofia Arroyo contributed with 6 points each.

Cuba match protocol

Odaimis Leliebre, Setter of Cuba: “We could have done better because Costa Rica is a team with less strength than ours. With the variations in line-up, we felt good, we have practiced for that, and our objective is to contribute to the development of each player”.

Mónica Picado, Setter of Costa Rica: “We came the entire tournament from less to more, we learned a lot for Central American championships, and we love to play against power houses like Cuba, all for our improvement. We are practicing well, we had good matches and we are looking for our less experienced players to play more, we want to improve Costa Rica’s level of play”.  

Joel Olazabal, Head Coach of Cuba: “We changed some players of position because we were aware that Costa Rica’s level was lower than the other teams, to observe all the players. We are satisfied with closing with a victory. We weren’t coming for the berth for the Challenger but to prepare the team and with the incorporation of other players we can have a good result for the Central American Games”.

Pablo Acuña, Head Coach of Costa Rica: “All the players had a chance to perform, this is a tournament for evaluations, preparation, to see what works and to learn. Despite the difficult opponent, the girls were confident, and we managed to hurt them with our weapons. We grew in confidence and the tactical planning, in defense and blocking; there are players that couldn’t travel here and that continue to be important for our process”.

Legendary Regla Torres honored at NORCECA Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 19, 2022.- Legendary Regla Torres received a recognition by the organizing committee of the NORCECA Women’s Final Four Qualification Tournament in Nogales, Sonora.

Members of the Sonora Volleyball Association, the Nogales Government, the Municipal Sports Institute of Nogales and the Mexican Volleyball Federation alongside members of the NORCECA control committee presented Cuban Regla Torres a tribute for her successful Volleyball career.

“It is an honor for the City of Nogales to have such a distinguished volleyball legend taking part in this important international tournament, inspiring a new generation of players and contributing to the development of our beloved sport” said Rodolfo Alberti Loyo Rivera, president of the Sonora Volleyball Association.

Regla Torres part of legendary “Las Morenas del Caribe”, the Best Player of the 20th Century, three-time Gold Olympic Medalist and Volleyball Hall of Famer, is part of the coaching staff traveling with the Cuban team competing at the NORCECA Women’s Final Four tournament that grants a spot for the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup.

The recognition was handed to Regla Torres on Sunday, before the match between Cuba and Costa Rica.

Mexico remains undefeated at NORCECA Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 18, 2022.- Mexico remained undefeated at the Qualification Tournament NORCECA Women’s Final Four after winning in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-22) to Cuba on Saturday night in Nogales, Sonora.

Mexico improved their record 2-0, the only undefeated team and is the favorite to qualify to the 2023 FIVB Final Challenger Cup.

The host prevailed 44-34 in attacks and held a slim 5-4 margin in serves; Cuba led 7-6 in blocks. Mexico committed 18 unforced errors and benefited from 20 Cuban errors.

Outside hitter Samantha Bricio topped Mexico with 13 points on 12 kills and one ace, joined by outside hitter Grecia Castro with 9 points on 7 kills and two aces, while middle blocker Jocelyn Urias tallied 7 points.

Cuban middle blocker Laura Suarez finished with 11 points on 8 kills, 2 blocks and one ace. Middle blocker Dayana Martinez chipped in with 9 points and outside hitter Claudia Tarin scored 7 points.

On day three, Cuba (1-1) faces Costa Rica (0-2) and Mexico (2-0) closes the event against Puerto Rico (1-1).

Flores (25) of Mexico against Cuba

Samantha Bricio, Top scorer of Mexico: “We have worked hard to play like we did today, and I believe all our supporters, technical staff are happy with how we performed today. Compared to Cuba, we were calm, we got out some tough obstacles; this team is a mix of experienced players and young ones that are giving a lot to the team. Tomorrow, we hope to do the same or better than today, we must close well, win and reach our short-term objective that is the Challenger Cup”.

Laura Suárez, Top scorer of Cuba: “We were aware that we were facing the host team and that they are coming for the Challenger Nations League; we should have battled more but sadly the victory wasn’t ours. We must learn, we needed more energy, yesterday was more emotional and today we didn’t do well”.

Rafael Petry, Head Coach of Mexico: “We were expecting to win because we have worked a lot for it, things worked well despite some aspects out of our control. The team was patient, they had the necessary calm to recover in reception and transition to reach victory. We hope for the same concentration, the same willingness, team effort and that they work for one another. We hope that added to our patience, we can have other strengths, with people that can give to the team”.

Joel Olazabal, Head Coach of Cuba: “We thought we could have won one set to Mexico, but we had deficiencies in passing, there is much to work on yet. The players got desperate because Mexico is more technical than us and defended a lot, watching that the ball couldn’t spike made them get confused and fall into errors. Mexico showed more experience. Tomorrow we must close strong, take advantage of our height against Costa Rica and play by the middle”.  

Puerto Rico downs Costa Rica in first win

NOGALES, Sonora, June 18, 2022.- Puerto Rico earned their first win at the NORCECA Women’s Final Four Qualification Tournament by defeating Costa Rica 3-0 (28-26, 25-19, 25-20) on Saturday at Nogales, Sonora.

Puerto Rico won a dramatic first set after failing three set points and moving into the second set with strength to jump to an early six-point lead (14-8), finishing in three straight sets, dominating with a 47-32 advantage in kills and benefiting from 24 Costa Rican errors. Puerto Rico also led 6-2 in blocks, but Costa Rica held a slim 2-1 margin in serves.  

Three players scored double-figures in Puerto Rico’s offense, led by opposite hitter Elissa Alcantara with 17 points on 15 kills and 2 blocks, outside hitter Valeria Vazquez and team captain Sofia Victoria added 11 points each. 

Costa Rica was headed by outside hitters Tamara Espinoza with 11 points all on kills and Tania Carazo with 10 points also on kills. 

On the last day of competition, Puerto Rico (1-1) faces host Mexico (1-0) and Costa Rica (0-2) closes with Cuba (1-0). 

Puerto Rico during match protocol

Elissa Alcantara, Top Scorer of Puerto Rico: “Honestly, it was about time we won; as a team we’ve been waiting for this moment, so it’s nice. In the first set we had a lot of silly mistakes, we started tipping, serving hard and making aggressive attacks. For tomorrow we are excited to face Mexico and we really want to win”.  

Tania Carazo of Costa Rica: “In the first set we managed to press Puerto Rico with our serves, we took better risks with our defense despite them being offensively really good. We must work harder in defense, which is our best strength and be smarter over the net”.  

Fernando Morales, Head Coach of Puerto Rico: “Costa Rica played strong the whole match, we played better than yesterday, but still committed errors from our younger players that we must improve for tomorrow. It was a match with long rallies, Costa Rica did a great job in defense, and it was difficult, it was a hard match”.  

Pablo Acuña, Head Coach of Costa Rica: “Our serves were effective in the first set, tactically we executed our game plan, the energy of the girls was better than yesterday, and we were more aggressive in attacks, hitting high, looking for their hands and that helped us unbalance Puerto Rico. It was an exciting match and Puerto Rico had to work for the win. Tomorrow, we hope for fewer errors and be more aggressive in serves, go on improving”.   

Mexico storms by Costa Rica at NORCECA Final Four

NOGALES, Sonora, June 17, 2022.- Mexico stormed by Costa Rica 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-14) on day one of the NORCECA Women’s Final Four Qualification Tournament on Friday in Nogales, Sonora.

Mexico overwhelmed Costa Rica leading with huge scores in all three sets, with every player having time on court.

The host enjoyed a 38-22 margin in attacks, while outblocking Costa Rica 8-1 and leading 3-0 in serves. Mexico committed 16 unforced errors and Costa Rica a total of 26.

Middle blocker and captain Jocelyn Urias led Mexico with 11 points on 7 kills and 3 blocks; middle blocker Karina Flores Gamez and outside hitter Grecia Castro contributed with 7 and 6 points respectively.

Costa Rica’s top scorer was outside hitter Tamara Espinoza with 8 points all on kills.

On day two of the event, Costa Rica (0-1) faces Puerto Rico (0-1) and Mexico (1-0) will play Cuba (1-0).

Match action between Costa Rica and Mexico

Jocelyn Urías, Captain of Mexico: “Everything worked well for us, our communication was perfect. Our team has players who are playing in the United States, and they are growing. We are very happy with today’s performance. We are prepared to face a strong Cuban team tomorrow; our goal is to win every match”.

Rafael Petry, Head Coach of Mexico: “It was a good debut; we are happy for the victory. Everyone had the opportunity to give the first step in the competition. I liked that my team was calm, with good transitions in the first two sets. We are going to study Cuba tonight because we need our eyes always looking ahead”.

Marcela Araya, Captain of Costa Rica: “We did a good effort against a great opponent. We lacked consistency, on occasions we put pressure and a first match is always difficult, we will improve our level with each match. For our next rival we must focus on our strengths, Puerto Rico is a young team”.  

Pablo Acuña, Head Coach of Costa Rica: “Some players were too shy and lacked confidence which affected us in the beginning; being down with such a huge margin in the scores is not the best beginning for any team. In some frames we showed we can compete, but our shyness forced us to commit errors which we usually don’t. To face Puerto Rico tomorrow we need to improve in confidence to have good defense and attacking, our serves will help us”.