Montelimar, Nicaragua, February 19, 2012 – Costa Rica outdueled Guatemala in a sensational golden set to claim first place in the NORCECA Men's Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Interzonal Tournament at Montelimar on Sunday.
Costa Ricans Esteban Escobar (left) and Bryan Monge celebrate after winning the golden set over Guatemala helping their country take first place at the NORCECA Men's Interzonal Beach Volleyball Continental Cup on Sunday
The series for third place, also decided by a golden-set, went in favour of Nicaragua over El Salvador.
The four Central American countries have already qualified for the final stage of the tournament, to be held in Nayarit, Mexico, from June 19 to 23, where they will be challenging the top four qualifiers from the Central Zone – Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico – for a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Costa Rican duo of Bryan Monge and Esteban Escobar edged Guatemalans Andy Leonardo and Erick Garrido 15-13 in the decisive contest.
Leonardo/Garrido progressed to the golden-set having defeated Monge/Escobar 2-1 (11-21, 21-19, 16-14) in the first match of the day and also the other Costa Rican team of Marcelo Araya and Jonathan Guevara 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-11).
Guatemala's Julio Recinos and Moises Reyes lost their two matches on Sunday – to Araya/Guevara (21-16, 21-11) and to Monge/Escobar (21-14, 21-13).
Nicaragua's Gerald Umaña and Dany Lopez saw a 9-1 advantage evaporate before bouncing back to claim a 15-13 golden-set triumph over El Salvador's Carlos Leiva and David Vargas.
It was the third victory of the day for the Nicaraguan duo, who had scored a 21-13, 21-16 win over Luis Morales and Carlos Escobar before overcoming Leiva/Vargas 21-13, 21-18.
"It was an exciting competition and the closing matches couldn't have been better," NORCECA delegate Marta Centeno de Sajche said after the award ceremony. "All the participants played at a very high level and that says a lot about the improvement in the quality of beach volleyball in our region."
Looking ahead to the upcoming final stage at Nayarit, the opening best-of-five series will have Costa Rica playing Puerto Rico, Guatemala against Mexico, Nicaragua versus Cuba and El Salvador against Canada.
El Salvador v Nicaragua
ESA-A d. NCA-B 2-0 (21-13, 21-17), NCA-A d. ESA-B (21-13, 21-16), NCA-A d. ESA-A (21-13, 21-18), ESA-B d. NCA-B 2-0 (21-16, 23-21). GS: NCA-A d. ESA-A (15-13)
Costa Rica v Guatemala
CRC-A d. GUA-B 2-0 (21-16, 21-11), GUA-A d. CRC-B 2-1 (11-21, 21-19, 16-14), CRC-B d. GUA-B 2-0 (21-14, 21-13), GUA-A d. CRC-A 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-11). GS: CRC-B d. GUA-A (15-13)