Puerto Rico clinches NORCECA Pre-Olympic Berth



MORELIA, Mexico, September 30, 2015. - Puerto Rico downed Cuba 3-1 (25-20, 14-25, 25-27, 25-18) at the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship to clinch a berth into the NORCECA Qualification Olympic Tournament.


Puerto Rico became the third team to qualify to January’s competition, where the top NORCECA team will win the ticket to the Rio Olympic Games, while advancing to the continental championship semifinal to face United States.


Puerto Rico took an early 5-2 lead mostly thru Cuba’s errors. Set one began to get in better rhythm as Cuba’s blocking began to work, but still Puerto Rico remained ahead 12-8; several miss communications kept Cuba committing errors and Puerto Rico finished 25-20.It was Puerto Rico with the slow start in the second but they easily recovered blocking Cuba’s intentions on scoring to take a huge 10-4 margin; Puerto Rico won set two 25-14 with total control. It was a different story in set three as the score was kept close and tied on numerous occasions as Cuba’s offensive was on fire; Cuba lost three set points before winning the set 27-25.


In the fourth set Puerto Rico finally stepped ahead after reaching a 9 point tie, when the kills were more effective for a five point lead 16-11. It took two match points for Puerto Rico’s win 25-18.


Puerto Rico held advantage in all categories, 52-45 in kills, 16-13 in blocks and 2-0 in aces. Puerto Rico scored 30 points on Cuban errors.


Opposite Karina Ocasio of Puerto Rico led all scorers with 21 points. Contributing to the winning cause were Outside Hitters Aurea Cruz and Stephanie Enright with 15 and 12 points respectively. On Cuba’s side, Outside Hitter Sulian Matienzo topped with 18 points, followed by Outside Hitter Regla Gracia and Opposite Heidy Rodriguez with 11 points apiece.


“We weren’t expecting so many opportunities in the first two sets, we took advantage of them. In the third set we got anxious while Cuba finally got into their game, making us work harder. I believe as a team we are very mature and we kept calm to finish winning. Who every we face in the next matches, we will perform strong like today” said Yarimar Rosa.


Coach Juan Carlos Nuñez of Puerto Rico said “we reached our first objective, it was a difficult road to go on but the efforts of many made this task possible; players, our National Federation and coaching staff had put hard work. Our goal today was set on winning, being aggressive in our serves and patient in our receiving”.


Captain Sulian Matienzo of Cuba indicated “the team was too anxious for the importance of the match. We made a lot of errors and when we finally got into the game, it was too late”.


Coach Roberto Garcia of Cuba said “my team wasn’t the same that performed yesterday against USA nor at the World Cup, they were shy and our reception had difficulties”.