Puerto Rico Women’s Volleyball Team to Compete in First-Ever Olympics
SAN JUAN—The Puerto Rico national women’s volleyball team earned its ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a victory against the Kenyan national team at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum on Sunday.
The Puerto Rican squad defeated the Kenyans in straight-set 3-0 (25-8, 25-23, 25-15) in front of about 8,000 people in attendance.
Puerto Rico won the last ticket available for the 12-team Olympic tournament, which includes Brazil, China, Serbia, United States, Russia, Cameroon, Argentina, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, and South Korea.
It is also the fifth Puerto Rican sports team to classify in an Olympics. Previous teams that have classified include men’s basketball (Rome, 1960), baseball, Seoul, 1988), women’s softball (Atlanta, 1996) and beach volleyball (Athens, 2004).
Team captain Yarimar Rosa celebrated with the rest of the team and a sizable crowd after the victory. “There are no words to describe this experience,” she said. “We know that in Rico, we will make Puerto Ricans proud.”
During the game’s first set, the Kenyan team seemed erratic. This helped Puerto Rico take a lopsided point advantage that was sealed with a kill from Karina Ocasio, who ended up being the team’s highest scorer with 15 points, while Rosa, Stephanie Enright and Lynda Morales each contributed 7 points.
The second set was arguably the most dramatic, with a more relaxed Kenyan team taking it to Puerto Rico and getting ahead in points on several occasions. Eventually, the Puerto Rico team took control, and a spike from the backcourt by team veteran Aury Cruz finished the set in their favor.
During the first minutes of the third set, the Kenyans took the lead again with aggressive plays by team high-scorer Noel Murambi and Everlyne Makuto. However, the Puerto Rico squad took command once more to secure their Olympic ticket.