Mastodons outside Vargas lifts Puerto Rico to win in NORCECA Challenger Cup

Photo courtesy of Purdue Fort Wayne athletics

One of the top players in college men’s volleyball helped bring Puerto Rican Men’s National Team within one match of qualifying for a global tournament.

Purdue Fort Wayne outside attacker Pelegrín Vargas had 18 kills as Puerto Rico rallied to beat Mexico 19-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 15-13 on Friday in Cuba at the NORCECA Challenge Cup.

With this victory, Puerto Rico will now play the host nation Cuba in the tournament’s de facto championship match on Saturday. The winner of this tournament finale will advance to the FIVB Challenger Cup with a chance to qualify for the 2020 Volleyball Nations League, the premier annual international event.

Vargas, who also was selected as the team captain, was one of three Puerto Rican players with double-digit kills against Mexico. Javier Rodriguez finished with a match-high 24 kills, while Kevin Lopez added 11 kills.

Rodriguez also led all players with five aces, and Vargas contributed two aces in the victory.

Vargas recently concluded his junior season with Purdue Fort Wayne in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.83 kills per game average. The All-MIVA selection also had a career-high .280 attack percentage and was in the top 10 of the MIVA averaging 1.74 digs per game as he helped the Mastodons reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Vargas was one of two current NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players on the Puerto Rican roster for this NORCECA event.

Barton outside attacker Adrian Iglesias came off the bench in the first and third game versus Mexico as a serving specialist.