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PR breaks 11 year drought of losing to DR – “We have been waiting 11 years for this”

PR's women's Volleyball posing after their dramatic victory over the Dominican Republic in 5th set. Photo from Primera Hora/ Carlos Romero, hijo) (Suministrada)

(The following article was first published in the Puerto Rican Spanish daily. Primera Hora. We translated and edited for our readers)

The Women’s National Volleyball Team will play today for gold in the Pan American Cup after defeating the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico did it! They defeated their rival Dominican Republic

The National Team defeated the Dominican Republic in five exciting sets in the semifinal, to advance to the grand final for the gold medal of the XX Senior Women’s Volleyball Pan American Cup, which will be played today, Sunday, at the Juan “Pachín” Auditorium. ” Vicens.

Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic with scores of 25-18, 21-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-7. In this way, the Puerto Ricans took away the undefeated status of the Dominicans had and stripped them of their Pan American Cup crown, which they had won in the last two tournaments; and they evened out the defeat in the group stage.

“Victory has arrived! We have been waiting 11 years for this”, declared Fernando Morales, national coach, after the great victory. He continued, “We knew this group was going to do it. Perhaps we did not think it would be so soon, but we knew they would do it,”

“They played their hearts out without our two most important players, Brittany (Abercrombie) and Shara (Venegas). This group is not removed. They don’t doubt themselves. They are not afraid of anyone, and they have shown it. We had a bad game against Mexico, we came back and had three good games in a row (all to five sets)”, acknowledged Morales.

The Puerto Ricans made a great comeback after losing the second and third sets, to extend the match to a fifth set. Puerto Rican spiker Paola Santiago was the protagonist of the decisive set.

With Santiago serving, Puerto Rico achieved a rally of five consecutive points, including two aces, to take off 7-3. She herself finished off for 8-3 and extend the advantage. Puerto Rico had control of the quarter to win, 15-7, and guarantee their ticket to the finals. Santiago made seven of Puerto Rico’s 15 points in the fifth set.

“Today’s keys were aggressiveness and Paola Santiago, who came off the bench and changed our game in everything: offensively, serving, she made the rally, and defended. She did everything in the fifth set”, Morales highlighted about the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year of the Women’s Superior Volleyball League (LVSF) 2023 with two-time champions Pinkin from Corozal.

“I have no words for this victory. It was great teamwork. We all contribute to this victory. I am very proud of the work we have done this summer. I stayed calm and followed Fernando’s (Morales, coach) instructions to serve Brayelin (Martínez). He was cold-hearted to attack her with the serve and that’s how it was,” Santiago said.

Alondra Vázquez was the best scorer for Puerto Rico with 22 points (20 kills, 2 blocks); Pilar Victoria with 15 points (11 attacks, 3 blocks, 1 ace); and Paola Santiago with 14 points (12 attacks, 2 aces). For the Dominican Republic, Bethania de la Cruz with 20 points (14 attacks, 2 blocks, 4 aces); Brayelin Martínez with 17 points (15 attacks and two blocks); and Gaila González with 17 points (15 attacks and two blocks).

Puerto Rico will play for the gold medal this today Sunday at 6:00 p.m. against Argentina. The Puerto Ricans have never won this tournament before, and for much of the past decade have always been stopped in that effort by the Dominican Republic.

The itinerary for the todays last day of competition of the Pan American Cup is as follows:

12:00 pm. Canada vs. Mexico (Positions 7/8)

2:00 p.m. Colombia vs. Peru (Positions 5/6)

4:00 p.m. United States vs. Dominican Republic (bronze medal)

6:00 pm. Argentina vs. Puerto Rico (gold medal)

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