EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -Since traveling to his native Puerto Rico in December, University of Evansville head volleyball coach Fernando Morales hard at work with the Puerto Rico Women’s Volleyball National Team as they hope to earn a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This weekend, Puerto Rico is one of four countries vying to win the NORCECA Women’s Qualification Tournament. Virgilio Travieso Sports Palace in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic is the host venue for the tournament. Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are the other three teams. The tournament begins on Friday, January 10 and goes through Sunday the 12th. In a round robin event, Puerto Rico will begin on Friday with a 3 p.m. CT game versus Canada.
On Saturday, Morales and his team face Mexico at 4 p.m. CT with Sunday’s finale against host Dominican Republic also set for a 4 p.m. CT start. The final match is crucial as the 2016 meeting between the teams saw Puerto Rico outduel the Dominican Republic to earn their spot in the Olympics.
“This is a great experience to grow as a coach and learn from the other coaches and players on the team,” Morales said. “I have been around the national team for the last few years and it is always an education for me. There are a lot of things that I will be able to bring back to the UE program.”
Morales explained that when he arrived in Puerto Rico on December 16, roughly half of the players were on hand with the remainder making their way back from Europe where they play professionally. The team took on Peru in four friendly matches with each team winnings twice.
“In the first two games against Peru, we did not have our full team, but when the rest of the players made their way back, we won the final two matches,” Morales continued. “We hope to have enough time to find our rhythm as a team and be ready for the weekend.”
The team travels to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday and will prepare to open the tournament on Friday.
Courtesy: UE Athletics