Puerto Rico wins tie-break NORCECA opener to USA

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, August 26, 2021. - Puerto Rico won the Women’s NORCECA Continental Championship opener to United States 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9) in Arena Astros of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Puerto Rico recovered from dropping the first set with strength in attacks (62-46) while the U.S. sustained the pressure up to an extended tie-break with an impressive 20-9 in blocks. The winning side held a 7-4 margin also in serves and benefited on 32 U.S. errors but giving away 34.

Opposite hitter Brittany Abbercombie and middle blocker Neira Ortiz led Puerto Rico with 17 points each. Abbercombie on 15 kills, one block and one ace, Ortiz leading Puerto Ricans blocks with 5 points and serves with 4 points; outside hitters Pilar Victoria and Stephanie Enright followed with 15 and 11 points respectively.

Outside hitter Kara Bajema topped the U.S. with 17 points on 13 kills, 3 blocks and one ace, opposite hitter Danielle Cuttino added 11 points and middle blocker Rachael Kramer scored 10 points, leading all blockers with 8 points.

On day two of pool A, Puerto Rico (1-0) rests and the United States (0-1) faces Canada.

Natalia Valentín, Captain of Puerto Rico: “This was teamwork and I believe our serves were key. The teams’ chemistry is flowing and also with our new coach (Fernando). Our playing system was good despite having a few days of training together. We are happy to begin with a victory”.

Fernando Morales, Coach of Puerto Rico: “We are really glad especially because it’s our first game together; happy as well of how we performed because it’s a long tournament and we know we will improve every day. It helps our confidence beating United States”.

Danielle Cuttino, Captain of United States: “It was hard, we showed a lot of fight for our first game and only being together for two weeks, we did some things we need to improve. I’m happy with what we did”.

Joseph Trinsey, Coach of United States: “We fought hard and our level was good, but our execution didn’t always match it so we got to get a little better in our fundamentals: passing and serving especially”.