Puerto Rico to play NORCECA Continental semifinals

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, August 29, 2021. - Puerto Rico defeated host Mexico in a close 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 25-23) to play in the Women’s NORCECA Continental Championship semifinals in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Puerto Rico will face Canada in Monday's semifinals; the winners earn a ticket to the 2022 FIVB World Championship and will play for NORCECA gold. Puerto Rico and Canada played in the preliminary round, with Canada winning in four sets to top pool A.

The other semifinal features defending champion Dominican Republic against the United States.

Puerto Rico led in kills with a 54-48 margin and in serves with 6-2 advantage; Mexico did better in blocks 11-8 and committed fewer unforced errors (30-32).

Outside hitter Marie Victoria topped Puerto Rico’s attackers with 16 points all in kills. Middle blocker Neira Ortiz along with outside hitter Stephanie Enright joined the winning campaign with 11 points each.

Mexican Samantha Bricio led all scorers with 20 points and opposite hitter Andrea Rangel contributed with 18 points for Mexico.

Natalia Valentin, Captain of Puerto Rico: “In the third and fourth sets, Mexico stabilized their reception and they were able to attack from the middle and that was when things got difficult for us. We continued despite the pressure, it’s not easy beating Mexico at home. Our calm and patience helped and we focused on what we needed to do”.

Fernando Morales, Coach of Puerto Rico: “We were aware that it wasn’t going to be easy, my assistant remind me that as players it was the same in 2011, in this same venue, when we were up against Mexico playing to reach the Pan-American Games semifinals and they won, the pressure was too much and I didn’t want the same to happen here.

Sabíamos que no sería fácil, estando dos sets arriba de México y en su casa fue difícil; me recordó mi asistente que en nuestra época de jugadores,  en esta misma cancha en 2011 íbamos arriba 2-0 contra México para pasar a semifinales en los Panamericanos y ellos nos vencieron, fue mucha presión. My players deserve the credit, they performed well under pressure and we were able to finish in the fourth set”.

Rafael Petry, Coach of Mexico: “This was an intense match, I believe Puerto Rico’s experienced players (even if they haven’t been training together) know how to benefit in key moments during the game. We need to learn from the difficult moments we face, trust the process because there is a lot to learn and we will come back stronger for our next opportunities”.