USA won all five of their matches to claim gold as Mexico settle for silver and hosts Puerto Rico take bronze
The USA won its second consecutive gold at the Girls’ U19 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) Pan American Cup undefeated at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico last Sunday.
The favourites beat Mexico 3-0 (25-8, 25-18, 25-18) in the final with middle blocker Elizabeth Andrew scoring a game-high 13 points (5 kills, 3 blocks, 5 aces). Outside hitter Blaire Bayless, who was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), added 10 points (7 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces) for the Americans who dominated 40-18 in attacks, 10-1 in serves, 8-2 in blocks, but handed out more points from unforced errors 23-17.
It was their second consecutive gold medal after beating Brazil on home soil in last year’s edition.
USA captain Julia Blyashov said teamwork delivered the gold medal:
“We brought it today; Mexico is a wonderful team, but we gave it our all. Each game we kept getting better and feeling more together. For me it’s my second gold medal in a row and it’s an honour to repeat this. We are excited to bring home the gold medal.”
USA coach Keegan Cook added: “I am so impressed by what Mexico did during bracket play, so we expected a battle. We just wanted to play close to our best, which we did in the first set, starting off strong. I am thankful to see these wonderful athletes perform at this level.”
USA and Mexico square it out in the final of Girls’ U19 NORCECA Pan American Cup at Dolores Martinez Coliseum in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico (Photo credits: NORCECA)
Mexico’s coach Luis Bañuelos noted that the loss gave him a true picture of the level of his team.
“The USA’s margin of error is minimal, they attack over our blocking, and they are a more physical team than us. This kind of competition allows us to prepare for other international events like the world championship which is coming soon,” he said.
Hosts Puerto Rico defeated Costa Rica 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 29-27, 25-12) in the third-place playoff on Sunday to claim bronze.
Opposite Grace López of Puerto Rico led the hosts with 27 points (21 kills, 2 blocks and 4 aces) with middle blocker Victoria Sanabria and outside hitter Chareika Carrion adding 12 and 10 points respectively.