FM WU18 PERvsMEX (19)

Mexico ended the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship on a high as the hosts defeated Peru in straight sets on Wednesday to take 13th in Durango and secure their best finish in the tournament since 2011.

Earlier in the morning, Puerto Rico also triumphed, taking Canada down in three sets to finish 15th at the Auditorio del Pueblo.

Mexico took care of Perun in three sets to secure their best finish in the tournament in ten years. The hosts used their heigh advantage to their favor and dominated on offense, registering 39 kills to Peru’s 26. The high numbers of errors made by the South Americans (27 to just 16 of the hosts) also proved too much for them to overcome.

Explosive outside hitter Aime Topete was once again Mexico’s leading scorer as she produced 17 points (16 kills, one ace) and outscored the tournament’s top scorer, Peruvian captain Alondra Alarcon, who had 11 (ten kills, one ace). Mexican captain and middle blocker Maria Ximena Solar and Peruvian opposite Saskya Silvano approached double digits, with nine points each.

“I believe today we communicated really well and that was important for us to keep the match under control,” Mexican setter Italia Bernal reflected. “We also had very good attitude on the court and a good level of energy. This is not exactly the position we wanted to finish, entering the tournament we aimed higher than that, but we avoided finishing near the bottom and that’s an accomplishment, especially for me, as I am the youngest in the team and was playing in my first World Championship. Competing at home was a great experience and we can’t thank the people who supported us from our first match enough.”

Puerto Rico finished ahead of NORCECA rivals Canada thanks to a straight-set victory, their first in the tournament outside of a forfeit win over Nigeria in pool play. Limiting their errors to just 16 while the Canadians had 25 was pivotal in the Puerto Rican triumph despite their slight superiority in kills (46-42) and aces (4-2). The Canadians did a better job at the net, picking up ten blocks to Puerto Rico’s three.

Pagan (left) and Carrion led the Puerto Rican offense, combining for 28 points

Pagan (left) and Carrion led the Puerto Rican offense, combining for 28 points

The winning side got massive production from their outside hitters as while Valeria Pagan topped all scorers with 16 points (15 kills, one ace), Chareika Carrion added 12 of her own. Canada’s top performers were opposite Lauryn Hovey, with 14 points, and outside hitters Maryn Boldon and Tara Garvey, with 12 and ten, respectively.

“We feel great, we were really looking forward to winning this last match and I’m so glad we did it,” Carrion commented. “I think our passing was a lot better than in previous matches and that was one of the keys for our victory. Competing at the World Championship was something we always wanted and to be able to do it, it was really special.”