No. 14 Purdue Fort Wayne will be down two starters for its season opener because Olympic qualification events.
Coach Rock Perotte informed Off the Block that outside attacker Pelegrin Vargas and middle attacker Tomas Gago will spend this week competing for their home nations and will be unavailable for Purdue Fort Wayne’s matches against Queens and Belmont Abbey.
“I’m so proud of Pelegrin and Tomas,” Perotte said. “With all the hard work and what they have achieved to be a part of their respective national teams, to have this opportunity to try and qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games is amazing. It would be a dream come true to see both of them qualify.”
Vargas, the 2020 Preseason MIVA Player of the Year and a Preseason All-American, will compete for the Puerto Rican Men’s National Team at the NORCECA Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament that starts this weekend.
The outside attacker playing with Puerto Rico was second among all players for kills at the 2019 NORCECA Challenger Cup. Vargas also spent the offseason in the starting lineup for Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games and the FIVB Olympic Qualification Tournament.
Along with his international experience, Vargas ended the 2019 season at Purdue Fort Wayne among the national leaders with a 3.83 kills per game average and was in the conference’s top 10 averaging 1.74 digs per game.
Gago will compete with Chilean Men’s National Team at the CSV South American Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament that begins Friday.
Similar to Vargas, Gago played for Chile in multiple international tournament during the offseason. The middle attacker helped Chile earn a berth to the 2019 FIVB Challenger Cup as the team almost qualified for the 2020 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Gago led the Mastodons with a .341 attack percentage last season and had double-digit kills in three conference matches as he helped Purdue Fort Wayne reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals. The middle attacker through his first two college seasons is among the top 10 in Purdue Fort Wayne’s program history with a .348 attack percentage.
Purdue Fort Wayne was predicted to finish the MIVA in second place in the conference’s preseason poll that was released in December.
Purdue Fort Wayne will play Queens on Friday in its season opener before playing Belmont Abbey on Saturday.
Belmont Abbey enters this match attempting to get its first victory against a national ranked team in program history. Among the starters returning for the Crusaders includes outside attacker Liam Maxwell, who led the nation with a 4.51 kills per game average last season.