Puerto Rico's Yarleen Santiago dives to keep the ball in play against Costa Rica in Mazatlan, Mexico on Thursday
Mazatlán, México, June 21, 2012 – Canada, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico advanced to the semifinals of the NORCECA Women’s Beach Volleyball Continental Cup, a qualifying event to the 2012 London Olympic Games that began in Mazatlán, on the west coast of Mexico on Thursday.
Friday’s semifinals feature Puerto Rico against Mexico while Cuba meets Canada in a best-of-five series. The defeated countries will play a best-of-three series for third place.
The winning country gets a direct ticket to the beach volleyball tournament of the London Olympic Games. The second and third place teams move to the World Cup Qualification Tournament to be played in Moscow, Russia from June 27 to July 1.
The inaugural ceremony of the event was presided over by the Governor of the State of Sinaloa Mr. Mario Lopez Valdez and Mr. Alejandro Higuera Ozuna, President of the Municipality of Mazatlan.
Governor López Valdez welcomed the athletes and praised the high quality of the competition before officially declaring the opening the NORCECA Continental Cup.
Cuba overcame a surprising 2-1 defeat (14-21, 21-15, 15-13) suffered by Onayamis Sinal and Kirenia Ballard of Cuba B at the hands of Ingrid Lopez and Lourdes Ramirez of Guatemala A in the first match of their series.
The duo of Nirian Sinal and Ion Canet of Cuba A came back to win their two contests, first seeing off Nadia Galan and Ana Villagrán of Guatemala B (21-7, 21-12) and sealing the pass to the next round by downing Lopez/Ramirez (21-15, 21-14).
The tandem of Tatiana Encarnación and Dariam Acevedo of Puerto Rico B stunned Costa Rica’s veterans Ingrid Morales and Natalia Alfaro 21-14, 22-20 and then completed the 3-0 sweep with a 21-17, 21-11 win over Katherine Quesada and Eugenia Ramirez.
Canada B team of Annie Martin and Marie Andree Lessard and Mexico B pair of Vanessa Virgen and Marta Revuelta also won two matches against El Salvador and Nicaragua respectively.
Canada 3, El Salvador 0
CAN-B d. ESA-A (21-8, 21-8)
CAN-A d. ESA-B (21-8, 23-21)
CAN-B d. ESA-B (21-11, 21-4)*
Cuba 3, Guatemala 1
GUA-A d. CUB-B (14-21, 21-15, 15-13)
CUB-A d. GUA-B (21-7, 21-12)
CUB-B d. GUA-B (21-16, 21-13)
CUB-A d. GUA-A (21-15, 21-14)*
Puerto Rico 3, Costa Rica 0
PUR-B d. CRC-A (21-14, 22-20)
PUR-A d. CRC-B (21-12, 21-9)
PUR-B d. CRC-B (21-10, 21-11) *
México 3, Nicaragua 0
MEX-B d. NCA-A (21-18, 21-11)
MEX-A d. NCA-B (21-7, 21-19)
MEX-B d. NCA-B (21-9, 21-16) *
*Advance to semifinals