Caguas, Puerto Rico, July 11, 2009 - Puerto Rico survived
a dramatic five-setter against Mexico and became the first team to qualify for
the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship, joining defending champions Brazil and
hosts Italy. The score was 25-13, 23-25, 25-18, 24-26, 15-8.
Hector Soto and Jose Rivera paced the Puerto Rican attack
with 24 and 23 points respectively and Victor Rivera added 13.
Jose Martell topped Mexico with 18 points and Gustavo
Meyer and Carlos Guerra added 16 and 15 points respectively.
"We accomplished the goal, we wanted to win no
matter how," said Puerto Rican coach Carlos Cardona. "The whole night
was complicated. Our serves failed and we didn't have the coordination in our
settings. Obviously we feel happy because the objective of making it to Italy
"The goal was to make it to Italy and we did
it," said Soto. "We played longer than expected today, as I think it
should have been a three-set job."
Mexican coach Jorge Azair said: "We wanted this game
badly but fell short in the tie-breaker. Now we need to keep working and try to
make it in the next round."
As second-place finishers, Mexico will have another
option of reaching the Italy round in a four-team playoff tournament from
August 26-31 against the runner-ups of two other third-round NORCECA
competitions plus the best third-place team of those events.
Earlier on Friday, Barbados scored a 25-21, 25-21, 25-20
win over U.S. Virgin Islands to finish in third place.
Shawn Simpson led Barbados with 16 points and Jelani
Richards topped the losers with 11 tallies.
Soto was named Most Valuable Player and Best Scorer of
the competition joining four other Puerto Ricans in the All-Star team.
Gregory Berrios earned the honors as Best Receiver and
Libero, Enrique Escalante was the Best Server, Jose Rivera took the award as
Best Attacker and Angel Perez was the Best Setter.
Mexicans Mario Becerra and Samuel Cordova were selected
as Best Digger and Best Blocker, respectively.