Puerto Rico defeats Costa Rica in five thrilling sets

AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico, August 12, 2021. - Puerto Rico had a hard time defeating Costa Rica in five thrilling sets 3-2 (34-32, 25-19, 17-25, 20-25, 16-14) on day two of the Women’s U23 Pan American Cup in Aguascalientes.

Puerto Rico improved their record 2-0 in pool B and will conclude pool-play on Friday against Mexico. Costa Rica faces Guatemala.

From the beginning Puerto Rico and Costa Rica battled strong; after Puerto Rico won an exhausting first set they gained confidence edging Costa Rica in the second set. Costa Rica stormed past Puerto Rico in set three leading by a nine point margin (14-5) and improving their energy into the tie-break. Puerto Rico took away three match points from Costa Rica leading 11-14 to finish 16-14.

Puerto Rico led in attacks 64-52 and serves 9-6, committing 46 errors; Costa Rica led in blocks by huge margin 11-4 and committed 35 errors.

Four players of Puerto Rico scored double digits, outside hitter Nahirka Malpica (19), middle blockers Karolina Rodriguez (17) and Paola Martell (12), and outside hitter María Verrier (10). For Costa Rica, Tamara Espinoza led with 19 points and María Sofía Arroyo scored 14 points.

Nahirka Malpica top scorer of Puerto Rico: “Our energy wasn’t the same during the match and that made a big difference to extend up to five sets. Not getting desperate was our strength and showing up”.

Tamara Espinoza top scorer of Costa Rica: “We did a great effort, I believe we were over confident and that cost us. I am a bit unsatisfied with the result, but happy with what we’ve accomplished as a team. Puerto Rico did an excellent game; they have great level to be U20”.

José Rivera Guinand Coach of Puerto Rico: “When we studied Costa Rica we were aware it was going to be really tight, my girls kept their concentration in the fifth set, they didn’t commit errors and our serves were essential. Both teams gave one hundred percent and we continue to learn”.