Report courtesy of USA Volleyball
LINCOLN, Neb. (Jan. 9, 2016) – Puerto Rico claimed the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament bronze medal by defeating Canada 32-30, 25-17, 25-20 on the final day of competition in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Puerto Rico ended the tournament with a 1-2 record and in third-place in the four-team round-robin event. By finishing with the bronze, Puerto Rico remains alive in the Olympic qualification process and will play in the Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament in May. They will be joined by the third-place team in the South American Olympic Qualifier and the second- and third-place teams from the African Olympic Qualification Tournament. Canada finished the tournament 0-3 and their dreams of competing in the 2016 Olympic dashed.
Puerto Rico was led by Karina Ocasio’s 23 points and Aurea Cruz added 12 points in the victory.
Canada was paced by Tabitha Love’s 14 points and Jaimie Thibeault added 10 points.
Puerto Rico’s serve kept Canada out-of-system much of the match with an 8-2 ace advantage. Both teams finished with seven blocks. Puerto Rico held a 41-35 advantage in kills.
Puerto Rico Head Coach Juan Carlos Nunez: “It was a tough match, our backs are against the wall. This is one of the last chances for some of the players, their last cycle, to qualify for the Olympics. They really want to play their best to be able, in May, to qualify for the Olympics. It is going to be tough having a team together – January to May the players go play internationally. Until they announce when and where the qualifier will be, we’ll get together for a week before we play again.”
Puerto Rico Captain Yarimar Cruz: “It will be an easier of a qualifier as the third-place team. We are happy we won today and now we have to stay healthy and focus on the next tournament to see if we can finally qualify for our first Olympics.”
Canada Head Coach Arnd Ludwig: “We are disappointed in the outcome today. I am a little disappointed in the way we played. I think we can play a little bit better. Puerto Rico played well and put a lot of pressure on us. Sometimes we couldn’t hold the pressure, especially in the first set. In the second and third set we were always chasing the game and never really got into the game like we were in the first set.”
Canada Captain Brittney Page: “Obviously it is very disappointing, especially since we came out so hard in the first set. We really responded to every point in the first set and really rolled over a bit in the second set and lost momentum. Unfortunately for us, they didn’t do much different than in the first set. It really is on our shoulder, which is really the most disappointing part. Nonetheless, there is growing and I am always proud of team.”
Team Canada Roster
Janie Guimond – Bécancour, QC
Lisa Barclay – Brandon, MB
Brittney Page – Vernon, BC
Kyla Richey – Robert’s Creek, BC
Jaimie Thibeault- Sylvan Lake, AB
Tabitha Love- Dauphin, MB
Marisa Field- Kelowna, BC
Jennifer Cross – Scarborough, ON
Lucille Charuk- Tsawwassen, BC
Rebecca Pavan – Kitchener, ON
Shanice Marcelle – Victoria, BC
Jennifer Lundquist – Surrey, BC
Dana Cranston – Fort St. John, BC
Megan Cyr – St Andrews, MB
Arnd Ludwig – head coach
Ryan Ratushniak – asst coach
Scott Koskie – asst coach
Mandy Los – therapist
Shane Smith- statistician
Nichole Mailey – manager