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2024 FIVB Challenger Cup

Grace Lopez’s VNL dream nears reality

As someone who has always followed the Volleyball Nations League, Grace Lopez now has the golden opportunity to join the world’s elite.

Lopez and her country, Puerto Rico, are one win away from qualifying for the 2025 Women’s VNL after a dominant victory over Belgium in the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup semifinals, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16, on Saturday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.

Standing in the path of the Puerto Ricans – who are aiming to enter the VNL for the first time – are either Vietnam or Czechia, which will battle it out later in the day at 6:30 PM.

Lopez, an opposite spiker, is just 18 years old but has been an integral part of the success of the Caribbean country, which is already assured of its best finish in tournament history after placing third in the 2018 and 2022 editions.

She wants to elevate her game even more and her nation even higher, which is why she is laser-focused on the gold medal match scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) at 6:30 PM.

FIVB-Challenger-2024-Puerto-Rico-vs.-Belgium-Grace-Lopez-Villanueva-5021 Grace Lopez's VNL dream nears reality 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“Stay positive because [entering the VNL] is something the whole team wants and it’s something really big in the volleyball world, so I hope we get the win tomorrow,” said the 6-foot-1 Lopez, who had 10 points against the Belgians.

“I’ve been watching the VNL on my phone this whole time and I think it would feel great to be in the VNL playing against the other teams there,” she continued.

Lopez currently plays collegiate volleyball at the University of Miami in the US NCAA Division 1 and is entering her sophomore year.

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During her rookie season abroad, she played the outside position and shone brightly, starting 24 of their 28 games and nabbing the ACC Freshman of the Week award twice.

Even with her league in the United States in the offseason, she always makes sure to go home to Puerto Rico and represent her nation.

“Representing my island feels really great and I love it here!”

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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