Puerto Rico reaches U18 Pan Am title match and qualifies to FIVB WCH

DURANGO, Mexico, May 25, 2019. - Puerto Rico reaches the U18 Girls’ Pan American title match and qualifies to the FIVB World Championship after beating Chile 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18) in semifinals at Auditorio del Pueblo of Durango, Mexico.

Puerto Rico wins one of the two tickets available to the FIVB World Championship, which they return for seventh occasion; the last time was in 2013 when they won the berth also at the U18 Pan Am Cup and reached the title match losing to Brazil.

Puerto Rico was passive in the first set, while Chile performed technically orderly, the same way they did against Cuba, jumping to a comfortable four point lead (11-7) that grew into a strong 25-15 finish. Both teams were cautious in set two, Puerto Rico took the control with sizeable six point margin  (12-6) with better blocking and strength in attack by Sofia Victoriá that returned after missing three matches. Puerto Rico was always on top. Set three had more intensity with the scores tied from point five until Chile was able to move ahead with five point margin (17-12); Puerto Rico worked hard to tie taking the lead two sets to one. Puerto Rico took the initiative in the fourth set; they proposed and moved into the final match.

Puerto Rico led 47-37 in spikes and by slim 8-7 margin in blocks; Chile held 5-1 advantage in aces and both teams finished with 34 unforced errors.

Sofia Victoriá was crucial in Puerto Rico’s victory scoring a match-high of 24 points including 22 kills, alongside Alondra Maldonado with 11 points. Maria Jesus Muñoz led Chile with 18 points followed by Ignacia Badilla with 12 points.

Sofía Victoriá, Puerto Rico’s captain said excited “we are very proud of our performance, we are grateful of reaching our objective, qualifying to worlds. We dedicate this victory to our family, our coaches, they have done a spectacular job and to everybody who has supported us. I also congratulate Chile because they’ve had a great tournament. Our strength was our blocks, passing and we score many points on kills. We failed in serves; it’s something to work hard on”. About her recovery she indicated “I’m not fully recovered, I’m working on it”. She added that having qualified to the worlds they are more relaxed but they have their minds set on first place”.

Juan Carlos Rodríguez Puerto Rico’s coach said “I am glad, we planned one game at a time and it gave result, we knew it was going to be difficult to qualify to the World Championship because there are teams with high level here, but my girls worked as we asked them. It was a slow a calm match, slow, but always telling our girls to take the control and that’s what they did”.