The packed hall with Argentinian fans did not seem intimidating to veteran Brazilian coach Mauro Marasciulo, who has been training Team Peru for a year.
Despite playing in Bariloche, Argentina, and the fact that the locals are seen as favourites, Marasciulo told Volleyverse, right after his squad demolished weak Chile, he believes either Peru or Colombia will grab the ticket to Rio Olympics.
“Tomorrow (Friday) we will see who is going to win this qualifier, when Peru plays Colombia. One of these two will get the berth. Argentina will not make it, they lack strength with their outside and opposite spikers, and this is something serious,” said Marasciulo.
The South American women’s qualifier has five teams: Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Chile. Except for the latter, all the others arrived in Bariloche with some chances, especially the locals for being the most experienced squad and for having that extra push from their fans.
In the first round, Colombia defeated Venezuela 3-2, and Argentina smashed Chile 3-0. On day two, the Peruvians beat the Chileans 3-0. The home team plays Venezuela later. It is a win or die situation for the Venezuelans, while Argentina has its first real challenge.
Marasciulo based his opinion about the eventual winner on the balance of both Peru and Colombia – before moving to Peru in early 2015, he coached the Colombians for four years, knowing their players very well.
“We want this qualification to Rio so much, but more than just going to the Olympics and losing sets by 25-10 to some powerhouses, we want to build a strong team again,” points out the coach, recalling a time when Peru was one of the top teams in the world, back in the 1980s.
“Winning or not here in Bariloche, we are on the right track. Our group is the youngest here, it is a very promising squad.”
“We don’t want simply going to the major tournaments to participate. See this Argentinian team that has been together for so long. In the last World Cup they could only beat the Africans, losing to the big teams,” stresses Marasciulo.
In fact, Argentina beat two Africans, Cuba and Peru itself at the 2015 World Cup, none of them exactly strong, but managed to take two sets from silver medalist Serbia. They ended eighth, while Peru placed 11th.
But Mauro Marasciulo’s point is their Argentinian rivals have not advanced much, being far away from the elite.
Last time Peru went to the Olympics was in Sydney 2000, leaving the competition without a victory.
Colombia and Argentina are trying to make it for the first time. Venezuela participated in Beijing 2008.
In the first round, Colombia defeated Venezuela 3-2, and Argentina smashed Chile 3-0. On Thursday, the Peruvians beat the Chileans 3-0. The home team defeated Venezuela 3-1 (25-18, 25-16, 17-25, 25-18). It was a win or die situation for the Venezuelans, while Argentina had their first real challenge.
Argentina’s Yael Castiglione told Volleyverse she believes her team has reached a level where they are making very few mistakes, though she knows the remaining opponents, Colombia and Peru, are tougher.
The setter praised the crowd, who packed the 1,600 seats of the small Pedro Estremador hall and pushed Las Panteras to their limit.
Guillermo Orduna, Argentina head coach, minimized the team poor performance in third set, when the opposite and wing spikers were neutralized by the Venezuelan block.
“We did badly in third set, but then in the fourth we showed we are able to overcome a hard situation,” he observed.
“It is going to be tough, but this amazing crowd helps us a lot,” remarked Rizzo.
“We are very confident, we just need to remain focused and do what we know. Colombia and Peru are very strong, but we can make it,” stressed Sosa.