Puerto Rican women's finished second in this year's FIVB World Grand Prix Group 2
San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 4, 2014 - The Puerto Rican Women’s National Team are on their way to play several friendly international matches as they enter the final stretch of their preparation before the start of the FIVB Women’s World Championship to be held in Italy from September 23 to October 12.
Elliot Matias, director of the national programs of the Puerto Rican Volleyball Federation said they are evaluating several options and is in contact with various national teams and professional Italian squads to secure several friendly matches before Puerto Rico’s debut in Pool D (in the Italian city of Bari) on September 23rd against powerhouse China. In the first-round pool play, Puerto Rico also will meet Japan, Cuba, Belgium and Azerbaijan.
“We tried to secure a series of friendly matches with the Argentinean national squad, as well as with several Italian pro squads, but both options fell through. We are now discussing the possibility of organizing a series against the Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico, but we haven’t reached an agreement yet”, Matías said to the Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora.
Even though Puerto Rico have seen action in three international tournaments this year, including their bronze medal performance in the second division of the 2014 FIVB Grand Prix, coach José Mieles agreed that a series of international matches before the opening whistle would benefit the squad.
“It’s going to be difficult to secure matches against other teams before the start of the tournament because most, if not all, teams already have an established training and game schedule. If we cannot find friendly international-caliber matches I’ll organize formal inter-squad scrimmages with referees. I’ll also try to play matches against our U19 and U23 boy’s National teams in order to maintain the performance level achieved during the Grand Prix”, said Mieles.
“The Grand Prix helped us immensely, since we participated in 11 high-caliber and high-intensity matches, especially the matches we played in the Netherlands and in Poland (site of the second division championship round, where they played against European teams). We cannot allow a dip in the performance level achieved during the Grand Prix, so we’ve been working on our serve- reception and passing. We want to maintain the same high tactical and technical proficiency demonstrated during the Grand Prix”, stated Puerto Rico’s head coach.
Mieles invited libero Nayka Benítez, opposite hitters Vanessa Vélez and Génesis Collazo, and young outside hitter prospect Patricia Montero to take part in the team’s training sessions in order to increase Puerto Rico’s available talent during the scrimmages.
Puerto Rico began their final stretch of training sessions on August 26, a week after they finished heir run at the FIVB Grand Prix.