August 04, 2003 - The Cuban women's national team scored an easy 3-0 (25-16, 25-27, 25-17) victory over Venezuela who are making their debut in the Pan American Games.
Yumilka Ruiz, Liana Mesa and Nancy Carrillo each scored nine points to share the lwell balanced Cuban attack. Martha Sanchez added eight points and Azzurina Alvarez seven.
“I think that Liana Mesa was the best overall Cuban player tonight,” said veteran coach Eugenio George, advisor of head coach Luis Felipe Calderon.
Cuba, who won the silver medal in Winnipeg 1999, is looking to recapture the dominance they maintained in the region after having gone through a rebuilding process.
“This team combines experience with young talent and it has been trained to look for the top medal here in the Pan Am Games,” said Calderon.
Ruiz, the captain and star of the Cuban side, said USA, Brazil and the Dominican Republic must be the strongest opposition in this event.
“But we are not thinking about a particular team,” she said. “We always play as if the other team ion the court is the best in the world.”
Yaseldy Castaneda recorded seven points for Venezuela and Graciela Marquez and Desiree Gold scored six apiece.
Marquez, captain of Venezuela, said: “I just returned to the national team and it is a pretty experience to compete alongside a group of young players. In the last three years the team has improved a lot and playing at this level will be a plus, no doubt about it.”
Coach Irina Bespalova said: “It is not an easy task to work in the development of a women's team, but we have been working hard with young girls and preparing for the future.”