Varna, Bulgaria, September 16, 2018 – Despite a monstrous 37-point performance by Maurice Torres Puerto Rico bowed out of the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship. The North Americans lost a 3-2 (25-19, 25-23, 27-29, 21-25, 15-10) heartbreaker in Pool D against Finland. Despite getting its first point of the championship Puerto Rico can no longer finish among the first four in the standings in order to progress to Round 2.
Finland welcomed back Sivula, Kaurto and Makkinen after all got a day off on Saturday and the start was blistering. The Nordic Europeans quickly jumped 6-1 ahead only for their opponents to move within a point at 9-10 aided by a couple of bombastic aces by Torres. But despite the efforts Puerto Rico never managed to tie the score. Slowly Finland restored the advantage and a spike by Makkinen closed the first set – 25-19.
In a nip and tuck second set no team was ahead by more than two points. Ezequiel Lozada came in for just two plays but with a spike down the line put Puerto Rico 22-21 in front. However the boys in red couldn’t get to a set point. Instead Rivera mishandled a serve and Tommi Siirila’s block secured the set for Finland – 25-23.
Siirila got the match on his hand at 24-23 in the third only to be denied by the block on a pipe. Finland missed three match points, Puerto Rico did not convert any of their two set points. Until Maurice Torres’ attack landed off the block into the stands. 29-27 and after 14 consecutive sets lost at a World Championship Puerto Rico finally had something to cheer.
There may have been only two Puerto Rican fans in the Palace of Culture and Sport in Varna but they proudly waved the flags after their compatriots won the fourth set 25-21 to force a tiebreak. In it Finland quickly went 3-0 ahead and 57 minutes after the first match point Elviss Krastins ended the drama with a Finnish happy end.
Krastins accounted for 18 of the winners’ points. Sivula added 16, Makinen – 15.