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Tiebreaker Times

2024 FIVB Challenger Cup

Grace Lopez leads Puerto Rico past Kenya in straight sets to advance to FIVB Challenger Cup semis


Puerto Rico opened the 2024 FIVB Women’s Challenger Cup with a straight-sets victory over Kenya, 25-20, 25-19, 27-25, advancing to the semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.

Puerto Rico, which dominated the NORCECA International League to qualify, relied on the brilliance of 18-year-old outside hitter Grace Lopez.

She contributed 19 points with 18 attacks and one ace.

“It’s really good. We had a good start, and I hope on Saturday we can get another win,” said Lopez after their first match.

“Before the game, we talked about starting strong and making almost every serve count. I think that was the key to our victory,” continued the University of Miami student-athlete.

FIVB-Challenger-2024-Puerto-Rico-vs.-Kenya-Stephanie-Rivera-2548 Grace Lopez leads Puerto Rico past Kenya in straight sets to advance to FIVB Challenger Cup semis 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

After controlling the Kenyan team in the first two sets, Puerto Rico faced tougher opposition in the third, with Kenya, the top African volleyball nation, taking a 12-8 lead.

However, the 15th-ranked Puerto Rico showed resilience – led by Lopez, Paola Santiago, and Diana Reyes – to mount a comeback.

Kenya, using the match as Olympic preparation, fought back when Puerto Rico reached match point at 24-21.

Pamella Owino scored a backrow hit before errors from their opponents forced a deuce.

Puerto Rico eventually emerged victorious as Stephanie Rivera sealed the win and secured their spot in the semifinals with two solid kills – an off-the-block shot and a crosscourt shot.

Despite being at a disadvantage in blocks (2-6), Puerto Rico compensated with a strong service game (7-1) and fewer errors, committing just 14 compared to Kenya’s 23.

Reyes supported Lopez with 10 points, including two aces, while Rivera contributed nine points, all from attacks.

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FIVB-Challenger-2024-Puerto-Rico-vs.-Kenya-Pamella-Owino-2258 Grace Lopez leads Puerto Rico past Kenya in straight sets to advance to FIVB Challenger Cup semis 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

Pamella led Kenya with 22 points, with Belinda Barasa and Adhiambo Oluoch adding nine and eight points, respectively.

The Challenger Cup is a knockout tournament where the champion among the eight teams qualifies for the 2025 Volleyball Nations League.

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.


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