Rivera relishing every minute of her last VNL

RIMINI, Italy - The 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League has allowed players from around the world to meet their national team counterparts for the first time in several years. For some of the players competing in Rimini, Italy, it’s also one of the last opportunities to do so.

Which is the case for the Dominican Republic’s captain and outside hitter Prisilla Rivera.

The 36-year-old veteran announced that the 2021 season would be the last of her career and even if she’s still set to play at the Tokyo Olympics and the Pan-American Cup, she has already started her farewell at a tournament she’s currently playing for a final time.

“I’m enjoying every moment of this VNL,” she said. “It’s a great experience and I’m taking every day and every match at a time. The best of all of it is being able to be with my teammates again after such a long time. They’re like family to me and it means a lot to be with them again.”

Rivera, who has been part of the Dominican national team since 2001 and who appeared at both the Athens 2004 and the London 2012 Olympics, has been one of the faces of the team over the last two decades.

She has also been part of the two strongest generations of players ever developed in the country and helped ‘Las Reinas del Caribe’ (The Queens of the Caribbean, in Spanish) achieve some of their most memorable results, such as the bronze medal at the 2009 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup and victories at the 2003 and 2019 Pan-American Games and at the 2009 and 2019 NORCECA Championships.

“It all makes me really proud,” she said. “More than personal accomplishments, these were accomplishments for my team and my country. That’s a lot bigger and means the world to me. To see the effort of several years be reflected on these results, it’s fantastic.”

Rivera’s departure might be the first of a few the Dominicans will have to deal with over the next years. With other important players like outside hitter Bethania De La Cruz (34), middle blocker Annerys Vargas (39) and opposite Gina Mambru (35) all presumably approaching the end of their careers, the team will look different in a few years.

“It’s hard to know what will happen in the future,” Rivera added. “But I believe this team will keep progressing. New players will come and the results will hopefully keep coming.”