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.”