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Soto helps Puerto Rico overcome Cameroon

Modena, Italy, September 26, 2010 – Puerto Rico claimed their second victory in as many days in Pool C of the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship with a straight-sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-19) success over Cameroon, who dropped to a 0-2 win-loss record on Sunday in Modena.

Hector Soto contributed 22 points to the Puerto Rican win with Victor Rivera adding 10. Jean Patrice Ndaki Mboulet compiled a match-high 24 for Cameroon and Nathan Wounembaina contributed 11.

Cameroon featured Olivier Nongny Mefani, otherwise known as 'Zonzon', as middle blocker in their starting six and David Feughouo as spiker, with Ndaki Mboulet moved to the role of opposite. Puerto Rico coach Cardona opted for the same starting six that faced Australia.

Puerto Rico gained an early advantage at 12-8. Mboulet tried to reduce the gap with some good plays but with Soto in strong shape and with Cameroon making mistakes they closed the set.

Cameroon started the second set on the front foot taking the lead at 6-4. It was Mboulet leading the charge, landing a number of winning kills. With the contest finely balanced, Soto tried to help his side take the lead but it was Cameroon who reached the Second Technical Timeout (STT) in front at 16-15. However, Puerto Rico made their experience tell and tied up the score at 18-18. Ndongo's block put the West Africans ahead but Rivera then attacked two perfect balls and Puerto Rico scored the decisive break-point and prevailed 25-23.

In the third set, Puerto Rico setter Fernando Morales kept all his players involved in the action, thanks particularly to his high setting asCameroon's blocking couldn't control the pressure. Mboulet urged his team-mates on, attacking from both the first and second line, and Cameroon narrowed the deficit to 15-13. But the Puerto Ricans duly stepped up their serving and blocking and went 19-14 in front. Although Cameroon coach Peter Nonnenbroich made a switch, opting for Sem Dolegombai as middle blocker and Maliki Moussa as spiker, Puerto Rico were on the winning path and Enrique Escalante’s attack secured the set and the win.

Puerto Rico's victory ensured their passage to the next phase, while Cameroon must now win tomorrow's match against Australia to continue their adventure in Italy.


Experienced Puerto Rico cut Australia down to size
Modena, Italy, September 25, 2010 – Puerto Rico beat Australia 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 28-26, 25-19) in Pool C of the FIVB Men’s World Championship at the PalaPanini on Saturday. The taller Australians had the advantage in blocking (15-7) but the experience of Puerto Rico prevailed during the key moments of the match. Jose Rivera and Hector Soto scored 21 and 19 points respectively for the winners, while Victor Rivera added 14. Australians Paul Carroll and Nathan Roberts finished with 12 and 10 points apiece.

Puerto Rico started with Morales as setter, Soto opposite, Jose Rivera and Victor Rivera wing-spikers, Escalante and Rodriguez middle blockers and Rosario as libero. Australia opened with setter Young, Carrol as opposite, Yudin and the expert captain Hardy as spikers, Zigler and Passier middle blockers and Tutton libero. There were plenty of serving mistakes from both sides at the beginning of the match and the scores were tied 7-7 and then 14-14 in the first set. Victor Rivera scored to break the pattern and Puerto Rico took an 18-16 lead. Hardy and Passier then helped Australia to stay in touch until a block by Jose Rivera closed the set at 25-22 in favour of the Puerto Ricans.

In the second set the quality of play improved on both sides but once again they were locked together at 7-7. Australia benefited from good blocks by Passier and setter Alexander, on for Young, and took the lead at 13-11 but two consecutive points for Soto put Puerto Rico 19-18 up before Australia got back to 20-20. Soto again with a nice touch then gave Puerto Rico a 22-20 lead before he notched the final point of the set.

In the third set Australia started well with Carroll particularly prominent, especially from the back line. Making fewer mistakes and gaining in confidence they led 15-11 and 18-14 before Puerto Rico pulled it back to 20-21. A block from Rodriguez, at 41 the oldest player in the tournament, levelled the score at 24-24 but Australia managed to take the match into a fourth set, 28-26.

In what proved to be the final set Puerto Rico set the pace and led 8-3 and 11-4, forcing Australian coach Russell Borgeaud to make a double change with opposite Edgar replacing Carroll and setter Young back on for Alexander. However Puerto Rico, and Rivera and Soto in particular, were not to be denied and they raced to an 18-14 lead before an Australian serving error closed the set and the match, 25-19.




Puerto Rico celebration.

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico August 29, 2010 – Puerto Rico defeated China’s National Team in four sets (25-19, 30-28, 22-25, 25-20) for a second straight night to win the final leg of the World League qualifier and claim the last open spot for the 2011 edition of the prestigious championship.

For the first time in its history, the puertorrican national team earned the right to compete against the best 15 teams in the world, after earning the last World League berth with both of their wins against China in the final qualifier tournament before thousands of screaming fans in the Manuel “Petaca” Iguina Coliseum in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico started the match with a more consistent serve and good defensive control. The host team dominated with the effective double whammy provided by spikers Héctor Soto and Víctor Rivera. China never found its rhythm in the entire set and lost by a score of 25-19.

The second set saw numerous serving errors from both teams, but after the first technical timeout, 8-7, Puerto Rico controlled the set to with an effective and spread out offense and good blocking on the net. After the second technical timeout, spikers Zhong Weijun and Chen Ping got the Chinese side back in the game after erasing a Puerto Rico’s 24-21 advantage. Even though China forced several ties, a serve error by Zhong and and out-of-bounds spike by Chen gave Puerto Rico the second set, 30-28, and the historic berth to the 2011 FIVB World League.

Puerto Rico’s coach, argentine Carlos Cardona, inserted much of his bech players for the third set, a situation China took advantage of to take the second technical time-out, 16-10. Even though Puerto Rico pushed to close the gap to 24-22, China held on to win the third set, 25-22.

Puerto Rico’s bench players, nonetheless, quickly got into a good rhythm with the help of the home crowd and completely dominated China to win the fourth set, 25-20.

Point leaders on the day were Soto with 18 for the victorious Puerto Rican side, while China’s Ping Chen scored 17 points.

Roberto "Rafu" Rodriguez & Orlando Irizarry
WIN SILVER @ NORCECA Event in Chula Vista, CA...

Yarleen Santiago & Dariam Acevedo
WIN GOLD @ NORCECA Event in Chula Vista, CA