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Gold Fever Spreads throughout Dominican Female Program in 2016

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, December16, 2016 - The gold fever caught the entire Dominican program from top to bottom as its teams captured all regional titles in all age-group divisions in 2016.

Those triumphs were triggered by the victory attained by the Dominican female team one year earlier at the U20 squad at the 2015 FIVB World Championship held in several cities of Puerto Rico.

They started with a gold medal in the U18 International Division at the 43rd Amateur Athletic Girls Championship in Orlando, Florida with victory over Brazil in the final match on June 26.

En route to the title, the Dominicans downed teams from Slovenia, Mexico, China, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Colombia.

The Dominican girls continued their successful streak at home by winning the prestigious intercontinental Pan American Cup on July 10 with a dramatic five-set victory over Puerto Rico sparked by a 30-point performance by MVP Brayelin Martinez.

They continued their victorious path claiming the U20 NORCECA Championship in Fort Lauderdale with a four-set victory against hosts United States on July 31. Natalia Martinez took home the award as MVP of the tournament.

The month of September was particularly good for the Dominican female squads as they added two more jewels to their collection for the year.

On September 7, they rallied from a 0-2 deficit to defeat the United States in five sets to claim the gold medal at the U18 NORCECA Championship held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The promising Natalia Martinez, who reserved astonishing performances of 33 and 29 points for the two five-set victories over USA in the tournament got her second MVP award of the year.

Three weeks later on September 25 at San Vicente de Cañete in Peru, the Dominican Republic captured its third consecutive U23 Pan American Cup with a straight set victory over Argentina.

Brayelin Martinez, who had won the MVP honors in the 2014 edition, once again received the award as the top player of the competition.

Besides those continental and intercontinental wins, the Dominican Republic fought back from 0-2 down against Poland to snatch the FIVB Grand Prix Group 2 with a  3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-11) victory in Varna, Bulgaria on June 19 and complete their return to Group 1 and the best teams in the world.

The journey home was a triumphant one for the team prompting a warming congratulations message from no less than the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina.

 “Thanks for providing new joy to the Dominican people who follow with interest the performances of the team," said Mr Medina in a letter of congratulation. "I want to salute and congratulate each one of the players, on behalf of the government and personally, for their outstanding effort obtaining seven consecutive victories in the competition,” he said.

President Medina also congratulated Brayelin Martinez for her stand-out performance as the top scorer in the Dominican team. After losing their first match in five sets to Bulgaria, the Dominican side went on to win seven matches in a row against Argentina, Kenya, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico and Poland.

“I want to congratulate all the girls. They did a lot of work and we are very happy now. It was actually teamwork. Everybody pulled their weight,” said Brazilian coach Marcos Kwiek.

His top performers Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez (24 points) and Bethania De La Cruz (19 points) were instrumental in securing victory in the final.