Home crowd favourites Puerto Rico advanced to the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship semifinals after sweeping Canada 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-18) on Thursday night.

After finishing first in pool A, Puerto Rico (3-0) advanced directly into Saturday’s semifinals, and booked a spot to battle for Olympic qualification at the NORCECA final four in January. Canada will play Mexico in Friday’s quarterfinals (8:15 pm local time).

The host came from behind 7-11 in the first set, taking over with some strength from the service line. In set two, the crowd enjoyed longer rallies while Puerto Rico maintained control, leading to a straight set win.

Puerto Rico dominated Canada by a 10-2 margin in service points and Canada led 9-6 in blocks; both teams scored 34 points on attacks. Puerto Rico benefited on 25 Canadian errors, allowing 18 points.

Three players scored double-figures for Puerto Rico, Stephanie Enright (13), Karina Ocasio (10) and Paulina Prieto (10); Diana Reyes scored four aces. Kiera Van Ryk topped Canada’s hitters with 11 points, and Alexa Gray along with Emily Maglio added nine points apiece.

“At the beginning we were two teams banging away, there were a lot of big kills and rallies, it was a really exciting first set and early second set,” said Ben Josephson, Canada’s coach. “The middle section got away from us, we didn’t serve our best and Puerto Rico was in control in the third set. We weren’t disciplined enough facing a strong opponent, we made too many errors and that gave them too many free ones, especially from the service line. This hasn’t finished yet.”

Canada’s roster:
#1 Jessie Niles, Turner Valley, AB
#3 Kiera Van Ryk, Surrey, BC
#4 Kyla Richey (C), Roberts Creek, BC
#5 Danielle Smith, Beaverlodge, AB
#8 Alicia Ogoms, Winnipeg, MB
#9 Alexa Gray, Calgary, AB
#12 Jennifer Cross, Scarborough, ON
#13 Brie King, Langley, BC
#14 Hilary Howe, Calgary, AB
#16 Shainah Joseph, Ottawa, ON
#17 Kristen Moncks, Standard, AB
#19 Marie-Alex Bélanger, Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, QC
#20 Alicia Perrin, Creston, BC
#23 Emily Maglio, Coquitlam, BC

Head Coach: Ben Josephson
Assistant Coach: Joseph Trinsey
Assistant Coach: Shannon Winzer
Team Manager: Cody Piwowar-Desilets
Physiotherapist: Fraser Perry
Statistician: Christophe Elek