Lausanne, Switzerland, November 11, 2017 – Puerto Rico and hosts Cuba shut out their opponents on the first competition day in Pinar del Rio where the last qualification tournament for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria got underway on Friday. Puerto Rico mastered a 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-21) win against Mexico, and Cuba cruised to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-17) victory over Guatemala.
The last two tickets to Italy-Bulgaria 2018 are at stake at his four-way single round robin NORCECA qualification tournament, which was set up after both Cuba and Puerto Rico could not travel to Colorado Springs for the NORCECA continental championship in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. USA, the Dominican Republic and Canada are the three NORCECA teams that have already secured their spots at next year’s World Championship.
In the opening match at the 19 de Noviembre competition hall, Puerto Rico took 83 minutes to defeat Mexico in straight sets - 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-21), making use of eight aces and eight kill blocks. Daniel Vargas top scored 16 points for Mexico. Jean Carlos Ortiz and Ezequiel Sanchez scored 15 points each for the winning side.
Puerto Rican libero Arnel Cabrera Rivera celebrates during the match with Mexico
“Modern volleyball is like that - the team that can press more with the serves and be more effective when receiving comes to victory, and that we did!” Angel Perez, captain of Puerto Rico, said after the match. “We put our opponents in difficulty - their setter could not put the game together as they would have wanted and, on the contrary, we received better and the offensive flowed.”
Then the Cubans crushed Guatemala for a speedy 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-18), hammered out in just 70 minutes. Miguel Lopez Castro and Marlon Yang Herrera were the most aggressive weapons for the Cuban side finishing with 17 and 12 points, respectively. Lopez Castro registered as many as four aces on his tally. Andy Leonardo was Guatemala’s most prolific player with 16 points.
“Teamwork helped us win. We are all in a terrific shape. The substitutes fulfilled their role today,” Cuba’s captain Livan Osoria said. “We hope to win our next matches as well.”
Guatemala’s Wagner Chacon Pelaez spikes against the Cuban block
Remaining match schedule (all times local):
November 11, 14:30 – Puerto Rico v Guatemala
November 11, 16:30 – Cuba v Mexico
November 12, 14:30 – Mexico v Guatemala
November 12, 16:30 – Cuba v Puerto Rico