Puerto Rico wins ticket to Czech Republic


HAVANA, Cuba, March 20, 2013 - Puerto Rico clinched the last berth to the FIVB Women’s Junior World Championship in Czech Republic by defeating Cuba in straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) to conclude as leader of Pool B at the U-20 Pan American Cup on Wednesday.


It was a smooth victory for the Puerto Ricans where Daly Santana excelled with 14 points while the Cuban Sulian Matienzo had 12, the only players with double figures. Paola Rojas and Ana Jusino each contributed 9 points for Puerto Rico and Pilar Victoria added eight.


In the quarterfinals on Thursday, Puerto Rico faces Peru and Cuba takes Colombia, teams that finished third and fourth in Pool A, consisting of teams already qualified for the World Championship.


Mexico and the Dominican Republic, the first and second of the Pool A, managed to get direct tickets to the semifinals.


Carlos J. Cruz, the Puerto Rican young rookie coach, could not hide his extreme joy at success.


"We came here on a mission and fulfill it, ran the block and defense plan and controlled Cuba's offense and their attacking trends. Now we will continue with the same respect for all my rivals."


After congratulating Puerto Rico and expressing confidence that those classified will represent the continent well, the experienced Cuban coach Tomas Fernandez said his players wanted to press the serves but fell victim of beginners’ mistakes.


"Our two best attackers, Sulian and Yaremis Mendaro were neutralized, worked on and off, mainly the latter."


Santana, the triumphant captain, showed the joy of all the players for the great game they could accomplish. "We achieved one goal, but we continue in competition."


Marilin Pagés, captain of the home team, congratulated its Caribbean neighbors. "We had so big desire of winning but things did not go as we wanted, we failed in blocking and defense."