Puerto Rican players join Jackson Rivera, one of the key parts in an awesome 3-1 over Italy
Krakow, Poland, September 6, 2014 - In the biggest upset so far of FIVB Men’s World Championship Pool D in Krakow, Puerto Rico brought down Italy 3-1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-22) for their first win in Poland.
• Even with this historical result, Italy is 2-1 ahead in their head-to-head numbers over Puerto Rico.
• Both teams met in 2010 World Championship in Italy, where the home team prevailed 3-1 in Catania.
• Puerto Rico prevented another loss that would have placed them closer to their worst losing streak, a 10-defeat series in 1974.
• However, Puerto Rico need to remain in Poland to avoid ending below their last two final positions - 13th in 2010 and 12th in 2006.
Maurice Torres and Jackson Rivera performed superbly for Puerto Rico, topping all the scorers with 27 and 20 points respectively. For Italy, Ivan Zaytsev led the way with 15 tallies, in a defeat that might have some effect over the Azzurri’s qualification.
Even being without their main player Héctor Soto, Puerto Rico tried to battle the odds against Italy. The Azzurri took the first step anyway, at 10-7 and stayed in control combining attacks and Caribbean errors. Mauro Berruto made some substitutions en-route to the 20-13 and Luca Vettori, one of them, set the pace to the 25-19.
Torres and Jackson Rivera pushed Puerto Rico forward in the second act, to 4-1 and 8-4. Zaytsev and Simone Parodi found the way to break their rivals’ spirit, but Puerto Rico evolved to 15-13 with Rivera in good shape. A wide spike by Matteo Piano created a three-point lead and Dennis Del Valle did his job in defence to complete the task. Torres overpowered an Italian triple block for Puerto Rico’s first won set in Poland, by 25-19.
The third set was a close one, as Puerto Rico kept being led by Rivera and Italy answered sending Jiri Kovar and Emanuele Birarelli on court. However, the Azzurri suffered a low and Puerto Rico escaped to 15-10. Rivera continued to be vital as he resisted the Italian reaction (20-18) and Mannix Roman helped with a block at 22-19. In their final opportunity, Puerto Rico clinched the 25-23 with another block, from Roberto Muñiz.
With a bit of luck, Torres nailed an ace as Puerto Rico conserved their good shape, but the play was tight once again, even beyond the 2nd TTO. Jackson Rivera not only led the attack but also unveiled an amazing one-handed defence for a 19-18 lead, and Torres joined him in the next ball (20-18). Torres created a handful of match balls in 24-21 and the dream came true with a great skill from Rivera, by 25-22.