Cuba win fifth place in five-setter to Dominican Republic

DURANGO, Mexico, May 26, 2019. - Cuba won fifth place at the Girls’ U18 Pan American Cup in five sets 3-2 (25-14, 25-22, 14-25, 21-25, 17-15) to Dominican Republic at Auditorio del Pueblo of Durango, Mexico.

Cuba had no resistance from Dominican Republic easily jumping to a 14-6 lead during the first set as the Dominicans lacked energy, allowing Cuba to have a party of points in set one. Set two was different as Dominican Republic improved in spikes and blocks; still Cuba led with a balanced attack between five players to keep their winning campaign 2-0. Dominicans bounced back to win sets three and four relying on Sthefany Gonzalez, Romina Cornelio and Flormarie Heredia forcing a tie-break. Cuban Dayana Martinez was powerful over the net, scoring on solid spikes and monster blocks, key in Cuba’s comeback from a two point deficit (9-11) for a thriller win.

Cuba’s unstoppable serves were crucial with impressive 13-5 margin over Dominican Republic, they also led in kills 51-43 and scored on 40 opponent errors and limiting their own to 27. Dominican prevailed con blocks 13-11.

Cuba used a balanced scoring attack with setter Yaimaris Garcia on 16 points including 5 tough aces, outside hitter Thainalien Castillo (16pts), middle blocker Dayana Martinez (14), outside hitter Claudia Tarin (13pts) and setter Thalia Moreno (11pts). Dominicans also distributed their scoring sheet with Flormarie Heredia scoring a match-high of 18 points, alongside Romina Cornelio and Sthefany Gonzalez with 14 points apiece.

Cuba´s captain Thalía Moreno “I believe it was an exciting match, for us and for Dominican Republic for the fifth place. We are a great opponent for them and they are for us as well”. Asked about winning two sets and reaching a fifth set she expressed “we committed errors and they took advantage to even the score. In the fifth we had some good moments and some bad ones too, but we knew how fixed things to finish winning”.

Cuban coach Jaime Luis Echevarría spoke about the game “my team was unstable, they are visibly tired from the previous competition, and these are things that happen in sport. It’s a similar situation for Dominican Republic. We were two of the teams that wanted to qualify to Worlds and we are left out. Our rivalry with them always shows. Here we are, in fifth place, not what we expected. The only thing left is to fix our strategy for other competitions”.