Three semifinalists emerge in Women's Challenger Cup


Maria Alejandra Marin and Melissa Rangel block Hungary's Reka Szedmak as Colombia advance to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in Lima.

Lima, Peru, June 21, 2018 - Colombia, Bulgaria and Puerto Rico are through to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Women's Volleyball Challenger Cup, all vying for one open berth at the 2019 Volleyball Nations League. The last remaining semifinalist will be decided between hosts Peru and Hungary on Friday.

Colombia defeated Hungary and Puerto Rico shut out Australia on Day 2 of the VCC, both in very convincing manner and in straight sets.

Puerto Rico were victorious against Australia 3-0 (25-10, 25-19, 25-15) to secure their semifinal appearance and send the 'Volleyroos' home. The result means Bulgaria also advance without playing today and the Caribbean and Balkan teams will decide first place in their pool when they go head-to-head on Friday.

It was the first victory for Puerto Rico under coach Abdel Otero.

Daly Santana was the only player to score double digits in the Colombia v Australia match, with 10 points.

Puerto Rico sub Genesis Collazo tips the ball over the Australian block of Jamie-Lee Morrow and Beth Careyon at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in Lima.

"I'm happy because our job was done," said Otero after the game. "We were able to dominate a team that we had never faced before, but now we need to work on some details that were not right today."

"We are very happy with the result, because we have been working for this," added Puerto Rico captain Natalia Valentin. "Our team is young, but with a strong desire to achieve our goals and that is what we are working for."

Beth Carey, Australia captain, was also satisfied despite her team being eliminated: "I'm happy with how my team played. Although the result was the same, we played so much better than yesterday. Now we have to go to Thailand for the Asian Championship and I'm confident my team will perform at its best."

Colombia extend perfect record
Colombia defeated Hungary 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-7) to finish top of their pool on an absolutely perfect record.

Led by Dayana Segovia and Amanda Coneo who scored 14 points each, the South Americans took advantage of 22 unforced errors from the Hungarians while minimising their own to just six. The Colombian pair, together with Hungary's Bernadett Dekany (13) were the only players to score above ten in the game, as Antonio Rizola's team showed his mastery in all skills with 45% (40/88) to just 27% (28/105) in attacking, 7 to 2 in blocking and 7-4 in serving.

Libero Camila Gomez and captain Maria Alejandra Marin celebrate as Colombia
advance to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in Lima.

"It was important to win today with an advantage on the scoreboard and to seek to secure the first place in Pool A," said Rizola, Colombia's Brazilian coach. "This victory was important because it consolidates the growth of the project we have for Colombia".

Colombia captain Maria Alejandra Marin added, "We have been studying Hungary, but more evaluating their individual strengths than as a team, and that is why we focused our work on blocking and defense. I think it worked for us. We played tactically and we were able to keep the victory."

"The game was very hard," commented Nagy Eszter, captain of Hungary. "We gave all our best on the court, but we have a few errors. Our opponent played very well and never gave us a chance. I'm proud of the team with our performance tonight and I hope for tomorrow we can give more."

Hungary coach Jan De Brandt was not so sure: "It was a very hard game, specially in attack with Colombia proving exceptionally good. We don't have a strong team this year, having lost a couple of players. But we are happy to be here though I think that against Peru it will be the same as they are a very good team."

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