Puerto Rico ended Canada’s hopes for a gold at home today in the Women’s Challenge Cup at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
It was a thrilling five setter with the scores of 22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 15-8.
Canada came out fighting and capitalized on Puerto Rico’s errors to win the first set, but Puerto Rico looked more organized in the next two. Pushed by the home crowd, Canada won the fourth in exciting fashion to force a fifth set only to fall short.
Alexa Gray of Calgary, AB, contributed 18 points to Canada’s effort, while Autumn Bailey of Burlington, ON, and Alicia Ogoms of Winnipeg, MB, had 10 apiece.
“We wanted to win,” said Canada’s head coach, Marcello Abbondanza “I think we can improve on many things, but when we are only together for a short time it is very difficult.”
Dominating for Puerto Rico was captain Daly Santana with a whopping 30 points for her side.
“We had a little bit of struggle with the first set, but we were able to clean it up and focus on the things we needed to do individually so we could help the collective,” said Santana. “It was a very tough match, very physical and long rallies every play. It was just about coming out with a good attitude and playing good volleyball.”
Kyla Richey, captain of the Canadian team, said: “This was definitely not what we wanted – it is good that we fought back and pushed them to a fifth set, but then on the other hand we needed to start off better than we did. Puerto Rico plays a really solid blocking defense and we couldn’t execute our game plan at the beginning and got a bit scrambled and they were able to get momentum that way. We have really good skill sets, but we need to read situations better. We can execute good things in practice, but we need to translate that into a game if we want to have success.”
Cuba won the bronze medal earlier, in a 3-0 match over Trinidad. Nicaragua finished in fifth place.
Note: a change in the tournament was announced earlier this week by NORCECA due to the Costa Rican team withdrawing because of travel issues.
Women’s Challenge Cup Roster
Autumn Bailey of Burlington, ON
Brianna Beamish of Surrey, BC
Marie-Alex Bélanger of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, QC
Alissa Coulter of Calgary, AB
Jennifer Cross of Scarborough, ON
Megan Cyr of St. Andrews, MB
Alexa Gray of Calgary, AB
Shainah Joseph of Ottawa, ON
Kristen Moncks of Standard, AB
Jessica Niles of Turner Valley, AB
Alicia Ogoms of Winnipeg, MB
Alicia Perrin of Creston, BC
Kyla Richey of Roberts Creek, BC
Danielle Smith of Beaverlodge AB