Argentina makes history in Bariloche

Las Panteras made history on Sunday evening as they smashed Peru in straight sets (25-20, 25-20, 25-14) to win the South American women’s Qualifier and progress to their first-ever Olympic Games.

MORE: Peru coach says Argentina won’t qualify for Olympics | Angela Leyva hoping for better days |

Both teams had reached the final round undefeated after beating Colombia, Venezuela and Chile.

Argentina’s starting team of Yael Castiglione, Leticia Boscacci, Josefina Fernandez, Yamila Nizetich, Mimi Sosa, Julieta Lazcano and Tatiana Rizzo controlled the game, except for the beginning of first set when they seemed to feel the pressure of playing at home, in front of loud 1,600 fans that packed the small Pedro Estremador hall.

The Peruvians, who before the match had not lost a set in the tournament (the home team had dropped a set against Venezuela), could not resist to the well-organized block-defense scheme presented by their rivalsArgentina had 16 blocks, while Peru only two.

Effective in the first half of first set, Peru’s main hitter, 19-year-old left side Angela Leyva saw her spikes getting neutralized.

Argentinian opposite Leticia Boscacci once again was the top scorer, this time with 16 points (12 in attack, three blocks and one ace).

Leyva led for Peru with 14 points, but she scored only 13 spikes in 41 attempts – the other point was an ace.

“We want more”

One of the main Argentinian players, setter Yael Castiglione told Volleyverse they will try to improve as much as they can until Rio Olympics.

The Games starts in early August and the teams will have a four-month preparation following the end of the club season in April.

“Obviously we are not close to the favourites, but we are nonconformist, we always want more. Our team had some good moments in the last World Cup, but I am sure we can play even better,” Castiglione said.

In the 2015 World Cup, Team Argentina placed eighth among 12 teams and had their best moment when they gave eventual silver medalists Serbia a run for their money losing only in fifth set.

Peru’s captain, middle blocker Mirtha Uribe, stressed although she is leaving the national team at 30, the squad is mostly young and has a lot of potential.

“There are too many good things to say about this team and I know they will get stronger. These players will give Peru a lot of joy,” affirmed a hopeful Uribe.

Peru and Colombia

As the second-placed team, Peru goes to the world qualifier with other seven squads in May to be held in Japan.

Meanwhile, the Colombians, who beat the weak Chileans today, secured third place, and goes to a lower leveled tournament, also in May, in a place to be defined, with three other teams. These in this qualifier are lower ranked than those that will play in Japan.

Team Peru will play Netherlands and Italy (second and third from the European qualifier), Dominican Republic (second from Norceca, the North, Central American and Caribbean Confederation), plus the four best ranked Asian teams (behind China, already qualified), which are Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Kazakhstan. Four berths will be given, one for the best Asian and three among the rest, including the others from Asia. Almost impossible for Peru to qualify. The Peruvian national team played at the Olympic Games for the last time in Sydney 2000.

Colombia will face Puerto Rico (third from Norceca) plus second and third from Africa – the African qualifier will be held in Cameroun, next month. One berth will be given. The Ricans are a more experienced squad than the Colombians, however the South American team still has a pretty good opportunity to win their first ticket to the Olympics. Ironically, the third placed from South America and Norceca get a better chance to be at Rio Olympics than the second ones.