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Puerto Rico beats Venezuela 3-2 in heartbreaker at Pan Am Cup


GATINEAU, Canada, July 27, 2017 - Puerto Rico prevailed over Venezuela in a five-set match (25-19, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27 and 16-14) on Thursday to claim their second consecutive win of the 12th Men’s Pan American Cup at Gatineau’s Robert Guertin Arena in Canada’s capital region.


The win qualifies Puerto Rico to the next round from Group B. After three defeats, Venezuela will play for a place between fifth and eighth.


Building on their 3-0 win against Canada in their previous match, Puerto Rico started out well and got the upper hand in the opening set, which they won 25-19. 


Venezuela kept their hopes alive in the second set. Fernando Gonzalez and Emerson Rodriguez combined for a solid hitting to even the match after a 25-17 win.


However, they could not keep the momentum for long as the Caribbean squad showed a good defense and added pressure from the service line to take a comfortable 16-10 lead at the second timeout. They increased it to 23-15. Venezuela reacted, but it was too late as Puerto Rico secured the third set 25-17.


Both teams started out aggressively in the fourth set. Fernando Gonzalez scored an ace and his side responded with a good defense to put the South Americans 8-6 in front at the first technical timeout. Despite four serving errors, Venezuela kept a narrow 17-15 lead, but Puerto Rico tied twice at 18 and 22, before moving 24-23. The Islanders had two match point opportunities, but Venezuela’s block performed at its best when it mattered most, especially with Edson Valencia stopping the Puerto Rican attack to give them a 27-25 win to force the first tie-break of the tournament.


Venezuela kept their inspiration in their decisive set, taking advantage of their rivals’ hitting errors to move ahead 6-3, but Puerto Rico kept adding pressure and tied the score at nine points, before moving ahead 10-9 following two hitting mishaps by Venezuela. Both teams exchanged points and displayed a good quality on court to entertained the crowed.


With the score tied at 14, Edson Valencia, the most efficient man from the service line for Venezuela missed his serve and Sequiel Sanchez finished it off for Puerto Rico to take the win 16-14 after two hours.


Puerto Rico’s output was more evenly distributed among five players, led by Maurice Torres with 19 points. Sequiel Sánchez added 14 and Steven Morales and Roman Mannix 13 each. Pablo Guzman totaled 10. Emerson Rodriguez was the top man for Venezuela with 31 points. He was supported by Edson Valencia (17) and Fernando Gonzalez (16).


Ronald Sarty, head coach of Venezuela: “It was a close match. Both teams have a strong service and it made the difference in the sets. We led by four points in the tie-break and these are situations we need to manage at this level. We must work on the psychological aspect and we need to finish off the game. We had key players who could not come here due to various reasons, but this s not excuse as we had everything to win the match.”


Ramón Hernández, coach of Puerto Rico: “It was a great match for both teams.  A great offensive performance by both Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and at the end we pulled it out.  It was the first five-game match of the tournament – so it was exciting to be part of this match.  I am proud of the team.”