San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 20, 2016 – The successful showings of Colombia and hosts Puerto Rico against the African teams from Kenya and Algeria on day one of the Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament have many experts considering the contest between the two sides on Saturday as crucial to define the ticket to the Rio de Janeiro.
Those experts include Eduardo Guillaume, the Argentinean who now is coaching Colombia.
“I don’t want to underestimate Algeria but our next match against Puerto Rico practically will define the spot to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games,” Guillaume admitted. “We have a strategic plan and will reinforce some details. The role of the staff is to transmit calm to our players and to ensure they come in with good mentality.”
In the first match of Friday, Colombia allowed only 42 points to Kenya in three sets only to see Puerto Rico close curtain by stopping Algeria in just 33 points.
The South American team defeated Kenya 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-13) with an eye-popping performance by the 33-year-old Madeleine Montaño that amazed everyone watching, even his coach Guillaume.
“Madeleine is an impressive players and she does things you don’t see often in a volleyball court,” Guillaume commented afterwards. “I think she is going to be better against Puerto Rico.”
Kenny Moreno and Melissa Rangel contributed 12 and 10 points in the lopsided win with Rangel scoring five of the 10 blocks by her side.
Puerto Rican coach Juan Carlos Nuñez probably was thinking about Montaño and Moreno when he commented about a couple of good attackers his team needs to stop on Saturday.
“They have a couple of important attackers but I think the reception is part of their weaknesses,” Nuñez said. “We need to locate our serves and try to neutralize those offensive players.”
Playing before a crowd close to 6,000 at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico beat Algeria 3-0 (25-10, 25-11, 25-12).
Nuñez used all his personnel in an effort to get them into rhythm, he reasoned during the post-game press conference. As a result no players reached double figures in the scoring charts with Karina Ocasio and Alexandra Oquedo sharing honors as best scorers with 9 points apiece. Daly Santana came off the bench to contribute 9 points, including three aces.
“I used all my players because at the end the reserves are the ones who win the crucial matches,” Nuñez said.