Bethania De La Cruz: Success Everywhere She Goes
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, February 2, 2021 - The Dominican Republic
women’s national team has emerged as one of the main forces of
international volleyball over the last decade and if one player
were to be the face of their success in the period, it would
certainly be Bethania de la Cruz.
The 33-year-old outside hitter has had a prominent role with the
‘Reinas del Caribe’ (The Caribbean Queens, in Spanish) since she
first joined the team in 2006, and was a key factor in their
accomplishments over the last decade.
“Since a very young age, she got used to performing really well
in the biggest tournaments. It’s really unusual when she's not
one of the best hitters or servers,” Dominican Republic national
team head coach Marcos Kwiek said. “She’s the face of our team
and the best role model we could ever have for our younger
players. Her offensive skills are easily among the best in the
world and she’s been one of our main scoring options for years.
Bethania is a hard worker and she never stopped getting better.”
Born in the country’s capital Santo Domingo, Bethania has had
the privilege of playing with arguably the two strongest
generations of players the Dominican Republic has ever produced.
When she joined the national team, teammates included the
legendary Milagros Cabral, Annerys Vargas and Prisilla Rivera.
The current roster has younger, but not less talented names,
like star libero Brenda Castillo and the Martinez sisters
Brayelin and Jineiry.
“I joined the national team at a very young age and immediately
had a spot in the starting lineup,” she told Volleyball World.
“To see that several years later I’m still an important player
for my country, it makes me really proud. To be called for the
national team, that’s a huge honour, but not many athletes
manage to maintain a relevant role for so long.”
Bethania de la Cruz has led the Dominicans to some remarkable
results over the last 15 years. Among them a gold medal at the
2019 Pan-American Games, back-to-back titles at the NORCECA
Championships in 2017 and 2019 and the country’s best-ever
finishes at both the FIVB Volleyball World Championship (fifth
in 2014) and the FIVB World Cup (seventh in 2015 and 2019).
The results that make Bethania proudest, however, are the
Olympic qualifications for the London 2012 and Tokyo 2020
Olympics. After helping her country finish fifth eight years ago
in the British capital, the Dominican is determined to take her
team to medal contention this year in Japan.
“Qualifying the Dominican Republic for the Olympics is a huge
accomplishment,” the top scorer of the 2011 World Cup reflected.
“We’re a small country and it’s a big accomplishment every time
we can do it. The first time in London was very special for the
entire country but to win the Olympic qualifier at home in Santo
Domingo and qualify for Tokyo, especially after having missed
that chance in Rio, it was also remarkable.”
Bethania de la Cruz has also been fortunate to enjoy a
successful club career and has represented Dominican volleyball
in great fashion in virtually every corner of the world, having
played in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Russia, Italy and
Indonesia. Next she is set to appear in the recently-created
professional league in the United States.
The Dominican has won the national title in as many as five
different countries and tested herself in the strongest club
competition on the planet, taking Turkey’s Eczacibasi Vitra
Istanbul to victory in the 2014-2015 European Champions League
when she was considered the best outside hitter of the
tournament. A few months later, the team went on to win the FIVB
Women’s Club World Championship.
“I have nothing to complain about my career in clubs,” she
joked. “I’ve been very successful everywhere I played and to win
a strong league like the Russian one with two different clubs
was fantastic. And I’m the only player in my country to have won
the Champions League, which is a huge honour.”