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
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”.