Puerto Rico's Envol takes gold with support of new American friends
HOUSTON, Texas – It was a battle between Puerto Rican squads, but two American teams stole the show with Envol Volleyball Club defeating Vaqueros Bayamon 26-24, 20-25, 15-13 to win the 15-year-old club division gold medal.
With Latin music blaring from the speakers and Vaqueros head coach Pedro Yantin performing a salsa dance routine on the sideline, Thursday’s Boys Junior National Championship bout had a very Puerto Rican feel to it before starting.
American teams Ka Ulukoa M15 of Hawaii and Richmond Volleyball Club of Virginia joined in on the fun, each finding a team to root for. Ka Uluoka backed Vaqueros, as the Virginians chose their new friends on Envol.
As their cheers dominated the match, it was clear these two groups of “fans” were competing against one another.
“They copied us,” one RVC player said about the Hawaiians’ cheering. “We can get louder anyway and Envol will win.”
It would seem RVC would get the last laugh in that department, but the Hawaiians took a friendly jab back at RVC.
“They’re just mad that we are a better volleyball team,” a Ka Ulukoa player said. “Vaqueros is winning.”
The Hawaiians managed to draw a few waves from the Vaqueros players, as their yellow-towel army grew in numbers, but the efforts of RVC didn’t go unnoticed by Envol’s gold-medal-winning head coach Gilberto Perez.
“They are awesome,” Perez said about the Richmond players. “They have been with us the whole tournament and it means a lot. That’s what we came here for, was the friendships that we will make.”
If anything, the Boys Junior National Championship has brought together teams stretching thousands of miles apart, connected only by the game of volleyball.