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Guatemala Keeps Hopes of Fifth Place Alive with Victory


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, September 30, 2017 – Guatemala made some key substitutions and came back to defeat Costa Rica, 20-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-15 at the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.


Guatemala will play the winner of the match between Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago for fifth place on Sunday. The winner of that match will qualify for the next world championship qualifier.


After losing the first set, Guatemala substituted setter Adan Ruano for Gerardo Gonzalez and its offense improved.


Guatemala led Costa Rica in spikes (54-37) and blocks (13-6). The teams tied in aces (3-3). Costa Rica scored 32 points on Guatemala’s errors while committing 25.


Guatemala opposite Erik Flores led all scorers with 19 points on 16 spikes and a match-high three blocks. Middle blocker Andy Leonardo added 17 points on 13 spikes, two blocks and two aces.


Costa Rica outside hitter Alberto Blanco led his team with 18 points on 16 spikes and two aces.


Guatemala Captain Gerardo Gonzalez: “The structure of the team changed. The setter is everything. It’s the heart of the team. The team started to play together. That’s the key. We started to spike more effectively. We’re going to prepare tomorrow morning so we can play in the afternoon and achieve our goal (of fifth place).”


Guatemala Coach Julio Dominguez: “The substitutions helped us start winning. The people on the bench started to play really good. I’m very happy because we are achieving our goals.”


Costa Rica Head Coach Juan Acuna: "We had the tactics prepared for the match with Guatemala, but then they made like three blocks and we lost the set. And then our players lost their concentration.”


Costa Rica Team Captain Alberto Blanco: “We are really sad because we had a goal and we didn't achieve (the goal of making the fifth-place match). The team was prepared for more, but we were not focused enough and the technical point was weak.”