Nicaragua defeats Panama in fourth AFECAVOL U21 win

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, October 4, 2019.- Defending Nicaragua defeated Panama 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22) in their fourth AFECAVOL U21 Central American Championship win on Friday at FESAVOL Gymnasium of San Salvador, El Salvador.

Nicaragua improved to 4-0 and is in first place of the round-robin competition that finishes on Sunday, still having to face host El Salvador and Belize. Panama evens their record 2-2.

Panama had their momentum in set two coming from a five-point deficit (5-10) to reach 16 all and from there on quickly dominating Nicaragua’s offense over the net. It didn’t last long for Nicaragua to recover with consistency in attacks and ongoing defense reaching 13-5 in set four but struggling to a close 25-22 finish.

Nicaragua held 57-47 advantage in kills and committed 28 errors; Panama did better in blocking with 7-5 margin and 1-0 in aces while committing 33 errors.

Middle blocker Jefferson Cascante scored a match-high of 21 points (19 kills, 2 blocks) in Nicaragua’s victory, joined by outside hitter Steven Lozano and setter Ronny Cerda with 11 and 10 points accordingly.

On day six Nicaragua (4-0) will face El Salvador (2-1) and Panama (2-2) meets Costa Rica (2-1).

Jorge Mena, Head Coach of Nicaragua: “Keeping our serves has been crucial, that’s how the team gets into rhythm and has good attitude. We were able to recover from losing the second set with a lot of effort. Our next opponent is El Salvador and will be our fight for the gold medal”.

Steven Lozano, outside hitter of Nicaragua: “Panama dominated set two with blocking, we tried to attack by the ends but it wasn’t possible. Our good attitude and energy in attacks were important for Nicaragua to win”.

Javier Polo, Head Coach of Panama: “The team’s rhythm kicked in too late and that cost us the loss. We have the will, force and a great attitude but we woke up late. It would have been a whole different story if we could have kept the rhythm of the second set during the entire game”.