Costa Rica remains unbeaten with five-set victory over Nicaragua

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, November 3, 2021. - Costa Rica remains unbeaten at the XXI Men’s Central American Cup, with a five-set victory 3-2 (25-14, 25-18, 23-25, 26-28, 15-11) over Nicaragua at Guatemala’s City Dome.

Costa Rica has a 4-0 record and 18 points after five days of competition; Nicaragua has 2-2 and 12 points.

In the first set, with a huge 19-10 margin, Costa Rica lost its captain Richard Smith due to a shoulder injury; still they edged Nicaragua with their powerful blocking winning the first and second sets. Nicaragua recovered from a five-point deficit (17-22) to win the third and then comeback from an intense fourth set winning two match-points over Costa Rica. The Costa Rican squad got back into their rhythm in the first set to win the tie-break.

Costa Rica controlled the attacking with 67-56 and serves by 6-4 and Nicaragua the blocking category with 11-9. Costa Rica finished with 25 unforced errors and Nicaragua with a total of 32.

Four players led Costa Rica’s attackers, opposite Gilberth Solano scored a match-high of 25 points, outside hitter Ricky Vargas who came off the bench for Richard Smith scored 14 points, followed by outside hitter José Andrés Ortiz and middle blocker Jason Brown with 13 and 11 points respectively. Four players also led Nicaragua, Jonny Zeledón and Tito Valdivia with 15 points each; Valdivia entered in the second set; Byron Hernández (12) and middle blocker Emilio Andrews (11).

Nicaragua meets El Salvador on Thursday at 1:00pm, followed by Costa Rica vs. Belize ant 4:00pm.

Johan Morales, Head Coach of Costa Rica: “We had Nicaragua in the third 22-15 and up by two sets and we still couldn’t win; it was an emotional hit and Nicaragua got motivated. We got into difficulties because of our concentration errors, but it was a good result. Obviously Richard is a key piece, he’s the captain of the team, but we have high quality in the team and we proved it today”.

Osman Hernández, Head Coach of Nicaragua: “The team was overconfident; we recovered up to the third set. We have possibilities of reaching the podium, that’s our goal and we must prepare for tomorrow and Friday, the group has shown good matches, we can close strong”.