Erskine outside attacker Roberto Perez Vargas showed on the court why he was an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team selection earlier this year but it wasn’t enough to get Puerto Rico past Canada.
Vargas had a match-high 30 kills as Puerto Rico forced a decisive fifth game before losing to Canada 25-23, 25-27, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10 on Thursday in El Salvador at the NORCECA U-21 Continental Championships.
The 30 kills from Vargas in the pool-play match is the most kills from any player so far through the first three days at the international tournament. In addition, Vargas led Puerto Rico with three blocks and one ace in the loss.
Vargas earned a spot on the Puerto Rican Junior National Team this summer after helping lead Erskine to a Conference Carolinas championship and the school’s first berth in the NCAA Tournament. The outside attacker also ended the regular season among the conference leaders with a 3.73 kills per game average and earned Freshman All-American honors.
Along with Vargas’ offense performance, USC incoming recruit Jon Rivera added nine kills for Puerto Rico.
Canada in the win had three players finish with double-digit kills, including outside attacker Brandon Koppers who had a team-high 16 kills.
Both Canada and Puerto Rico entered this pool-play finale following sweeps St. Lucia to open the tournament.
With its victory, Canada clinches the Group B championship and remains in contention for a bye to the semifinals. Puerto Rico finishes in the group in second place and will play its quarterfinal match on Friday.