FAYETTEVILLE – Former University of Arkansas volleyball standout Yarleen Santiago came away with a second-place finish at the XXI Central American and Caribbean Games last weekend in Boqueron Beach in Puerto Rico. Playing in front of their home country fans, Santiago and partner Dariam Acevedo earned the silver medal, falling to Mexico in the finals.
Santiago and Acevedo were undefeated in preliminary rounds and emerged as the winners of Pool C with victories over Elia Torrez and Jaqueline Toruno of Nicaragua and Ivonne Soler and Laura Molina of El Salvador. The Puerto Rican duo advanced to the with straight-sets wins against Orellana and Ramirez of Guatemala and Andrea Galindo and Claudia Galindo of Colombia.
In the semifinals, Santiago and Acevedo downed Ingrid Morales and Natalia Alfaro of Costa Rica, 21-16, 21-17, and advanced to the gold-medal match without dropping a set. Puerto Rico dropped a tight match to Mayra Garcia and Bibiana Candelas of Mexico, 21-19, 28-26. The Galindo sisters went on to win the bronze medal.
Earlier in the NORCECA season, Santiago and Acevedo won two titles. They won their first title of the season in November at the Nicaragua event. The long-time playing partners followed that with a victory at the Boca Chica Beach Volleyball Tournament in the Dominican Republic in April.
Santiago played for Arkansas during the 1997-99 seasons and total 1,342 kills in three years, the sixth-highest total in program history. She was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, twice being named to the league’s first team. During her collegiate career, the Razorbacks were 89-19 with a 41-4 mark in conference play, and in 1997, Arkansas captured the SEC Tournament title. Santiago also helped the Razorbacks to three NCAA Tournament appearances.