Puerto Rico overpowers Dominican Republic to reach quarterfinals at U21 Pan Am Cup

Photo courtesy of Puerto Rico athletics

Lindenwood setter Jose Vargas delivered at the net and from behind the service line to lead Puerto Rico to a pool-play win.

Vargas guided the offense to a .319 attack percentage and had a match-high three aces to help Puerto Rico sweep the Dominican Republic 25-10, 25-20, 25-16 at the NORCECA U21 Pan American Cup on Tuesday in Cuba.

Puerto Rico (1-1, 7 points Pool A) had three players with more than five kills en route to cliniching a quarterfinals berth at the international tournament.


Purdue Fort Wayne outside attacker Axel Melendez Watts in the victory had a match-high 10 kills and hit .389. Middle attacker Janluar Figueroa Torrens contributed eight kills and zero errors on a match-best .727 attack percentage, while Fairleigh Dickinson opposite Jamal Ellis Carballo added seven kills.

Watts also had two aces and led all players with 11 excellent service receptions as Puerto Rico finished with seven aces – six more aces than the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico limited the Dominican Republic (1-1, 5 points Pool A) to a negative-.059 attack percentage. This was the second-lowest attack percentage for any team in a pool-play match so far at the international tournament.

Outside attacker Ronny Albert Molina Rodriguez had a team-high 10 kills and was the only Dominican Republic player with more than three kills.

Puerto Rico will conclude the pool-play stage with a match against last-place Haiti on Wednesday.

A Puerto Rico victory will secure a second-place finish. In addition, Puerto Rico can potentially win the pool and earn a bye to the semifinals if it beats Haiti and Canada (2-0, 8 points Pool A) loses to the Dominican Republic.