San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 19, 2016 – Home-court advantage, the current FIVB world rankings and past history are just three factors that make many people consider hosts Puerto Rico the pre-tournament favourites ahead of the Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament in San Juan.
The event begins on Friday at the iconic Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan and with a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games all four teams will be looking determined to come out of the tournament in top spot.
Alongside the guaranteed support of their home fans at the 10,000-seat venue, Puerto Rico is the highest ranked among the four participants, sitting 16th in the world ahead of Kenya (18th), Algeria (21st) and Colombia (27th).
Puerto Rico also has the advantage in head-to-head encounters, with three wins to none against Colombia and two wins to one against Kenya. Puerto Rico and Algeria never played each other however.
Puerto Rico defeated Colombia without losing a single set at the Pan American Cups in 2012, 2014 and 2015 while their victories against Kenya, 3-1 and 3-0, were attained at the 2002 and 2010 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship in Germany and Japan respectively.
They also had a good outing at the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska last January, finishing third behind the United States and the Dominican Republic. They earned a final shot at Olympic qualification after a 3-0 (32-30, 25-17, 25-20) win over Canada.
Elsewhere, Kenya will fancy their chances having already defeated Algeria this year, claiming a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 26-24) win in the bronze medal match at the African Olympic Qualification Tournament. Algeria were selected by the FIVB to participate in this World Qualifier following the withdrawal of silver medallist’s Egypt at their own request.
Colombia finished third at the South American Olympic Qualifier in January in Bariloche, Argentina behind hosts Argentina and Peru, two crucial victories against Venezuela and Chile earning them a ticket to San Juan.
For Puerto Rico and Colombia, the chance of a first ever Olympic Games is on the line, while Algeria will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of participations having been present at the last two editions of the Games in Beijing and London. Kenya participated at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Both African teams have never won an Olympic match however, losing all 15.
Ahead of the tournament the team captains and coaches will face the media at the opening press conference on Thursday afternoon at the Hyatt Place hotel in San Juan.
A day later hosts Puerto Rico begin their campaign against Algeria with Colombia facing Kenya.