UPRM's Volleball Team Defends Their BiCAAMpeonato

This year’s volleyball season is coming to an end and, for a third year in a row, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez’ women's team has made it into the finals. The sixtet has two back to back championships under their belt and are fighting for the “triCAAMpeonato” this week. The team has won their first game in the finals against the University of Sagrado Corazón and lost the second one. The deciding game will be Thursday, November 29th. After Monday night’s game, we interviewed Khris Justiniano, one of the team captains, about the team’s performance this season and what it means to have made it this far.

 

 

“They were a little shy at first,” said Justiniano about the newly formed team. They didn’t have high expectations as to how far in the season they would get since most of the team was still getting to know each other when the pre-season began. Their process of adaptation went on with ease due to their hard work and rigorous practices and workout routines. The team began practices in June for the pre-season, which started in September. They practice from Sunday to Friday with a dedicated coach always pushing them to do better. As they began and continued to win games, the sixtet eventually warmed up to their place in the court and has since dominated as a team.

 

Another factor to the team’s success, according to Justiniano, has been the girls’ “humility and willingness to learn” from their senior teammates. They support each other and have created friendships outside of the sport which has helped solidify their bond and makes them feel like family, according to the team captain.  There is so much harmony and solidarity between the girls and that makes them a solid team in the court. “We may not be the best or the tallest, but I think we have the best team in the LAI in the last few years” said Justiniano.

 

 

What has kept them motivated, in part, is the pressure they have from having won past championships and the need to do it again. She mentions that they have been motivated to achieve their goal this year. Justiniano points out that she loves the pressure and motivation since it makes her feel like she’s there to serve and help the team. “I feel like I am contributing to the team and the university as well.” She is also excited by the fact that the team already holds two gold medals and hopes they can accomplish this feat again this year, and as well the years coming after.  

 

After the difficulties brought last year because of hurricane Maria, Justiniano mentions they had to play at a different place, at the Palacio de Deportes. Last season was not traditional, but they still won the championship. Support for the team has grown exponentially in the past years. Justiniano assures that the students from UPRM have been really supportive this year in comparison to last year. “People from our university have come to supports us,” Justiniano said about the support from the “colegiales.” This year they even have a bar endorsing their team, “La Cuevita de Tarugos.” She also mentions that there has been a lot of support from other universities from the UPR system, like the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.

 

Their journey to finals this year has been strong. After ending the regular season undefeated, the team breezed through the quarter finals to the semifinals. The semifinal series was of three games. UPRM lost the first one but eventually won the other two meaning they won the semifinals. This year they hope to achieve the “triCAAMpeonato,” a feat they haven’t done at UPRM since the 1986-87 season.