Mexico downs Puerto Rico to battle for the U19 NORCECA Pan Am title
JUANA DIAZ, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2023- Mexico defeated host Puerto Rico
in four hard-fought sets 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23) to battle for
the Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American title against the United States in
Mexico and USA will meet at 7pm on Sunday in the final match of the
evento, while Puerto Rico will play for the bronze medal against Costa
Rica at 5pm.
Mexico was inspired to take the close win that Puerto Rico struggled
with all its players to obtain. In the closing of set four, Mexico
stopped Puerto Rico with two blocks in a row by Topete and Marquez,
allowing them to reach match-point (24-22).
Puerto Ricans held comfortable margins in attacks 61-47 and serves 5-1,
while Mexico held a slim 9-8 advantage in blocks but scored on 36
opponent errors against 18.
Aimé Topete was the best scorer for Mexico with 17 points (14 kills, 3
blocks), followed by opposite Luz Solano with 14 (12 kills, 2 blocks)
and middle blocker Arleth Marquez chipped in with 11 points (9 kills,
one block, one ace).
The top scorer of the match was opposite hitter Grace López of Puerto
Rico with 28 points from 24 kills, three blocks and one ace; and team
captain Elena García finished with 22 points on 19 kills, one block and
Italia Bernal, captain of Mexico:
“We were focused, the goal was to win and give our all on the court. The
key element was our attitude and the connection between us, and the fact
that we didn’t allow the crowd to affect us. Tomorrow we’ll have the
same fighting spirit up to the last point”.
Elena García, captain of Puerto Rico:
“I believe our service and receiving could have been more effective, but
we left everything on the court, and we represented Puerto Rico with
pride. This still isn’t over, we have one more match left, the bronze
medal match is tomorrow, and we are switching our goal”.
Luis Bañuelos, coach of Mexico:
“This is a team eager to transcend, with identity, leaving heart and
soul in their performance, proud to represent its country, seeking to do
Eduardo Galarza, coach of Puerto Rico:
“It was hard today, the ball didn’t score like in other matches. Our
offense is always from the right side and today it failed. I don’t want
to take away Mexico’s merit, they fought well, they are a team that
likes to tip the ball, it affected us”.