Venezuela Snatch Semifinal Spot

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, May 30, . – Venezuela defeated Mexico 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 27-25) in quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals of the inaugural U17 Girls Pan American Cup at the Dome in Guatemala City.

Venezuela awaits its semifinal opponent, depending on the result between Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Mexico will compete in the classification round for positions 5 to 8.

Venezuela dominated only in aces (9-5) but scored 33 points on Mexico’s errors while conceding just 17. Mexico held advantages in attacks (56-47) and blocks (13-9).

Forellys Utrera VEN, attacks

Fiorellys Utrera once again led Venezuela’s attack, leading all scorers with 25 points on 22 attacks, 2 blocks, and one  ace. Team captain Gabriel Noguera contributed 14 points on 12 attacks, one block, and one ace.

Mexico’s captain, Aitana Rettke, led her team with 20 points on 19 attacks and one block. Outside hitter Karen Gonzalez and middle blocker Brenda Esquivel scored 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Aitana Rettke MEX

Venezuela was dominant in the first set, quickly jumping to a five-point lead and maintaining it until the end, despite losing a set point to Aitana Rettke at the net. They closed the second set with two consecutive opponent errors and a powerful kill by Fiorellys Utrera. Mexico stayed alive forcing a fourth set, dominating the third in attacks (16-10). Venezuela won the match in a dramatic finish after losing four match points and finally ending with an ace by opposite hitter Isabel Ochoa.

“Heart” was the key to Venezuela’s victory, said coach Ignacio Sánchez. He added that they had studied Mexico thoroughly and worked with the future in mind, “our expectation was to gain experience, and now we find ourselves among the top four in the tournament. The girls played with attitude, demonstrating their capability, ” he added.