Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, September 14, 2003 - Hosts the Dominican Republic scored a 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-16) victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday in the tightest of the three matches on the opening day of the NORCECA Women's Continental Championship, a qualifier event for the World Cup, in Santo Domingo.
The Pan American Games champions had to overcome a well contested first set to defeat the young Puerto Rican squad in their Pool A preliminary match.
“Today the girls learned a lesson and that is there are no small enemies,” said Jorge Garbey, the Dominican coach. “They were overconfident against the young team of Puerto Rico and it almost cost them the first set.”
The Dominicans came back from a 17-21 deficit to take the first set through the attack of Cosiris Rodriguez and Yudelkis Bautista. In the next two sets, Garbey rotated his players in order to give his squad game time ahead of their next match against Canada on Monday.
“I hope the team can play better tomorrow,” said Rodriguez. “The key is to go out and have fun and forget about the pressure of being the Pan American champions playing before our fans. I think it is better to start bad and have a happy ending.”
Rodriguez, Bautista and Milagros Cabral all registered 13 points for the Dominican Republic while Yarimar Rosa recorded 11 for Puerto Rico.
The other two matches saw Canada crush Trinidad & Tobago in straight sets 25-12, 25-9, 25-10 and Cuba beat Costa Rica 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-13) in Pool B.
Zoila Barros led the Cubans with 13 points, while Yaima Ortiz and Yanelis Santos scored 12 and 10 respectively. Verania Willis scored 12 for Costa Rica.
With only three teams in Pool B, the key match to decide the winner of an automatic place into the semifinals will be the Cuba-USA match on Tuesday.
“I think that will be a good game,” said Yumilka Ruiz, captain of Cuba. “We know the US have a strong team but we hope to have the best result possible. Our goal here is to qualify for the World Cup and then we will think about the Olympics.”
Luis Felipe Calderon, the Cuban coach said: “The difference between our squad and the one who lost to the Dominican Republic in the Pan Am Games is that now we have our middleblocker Nancy Carrillo healthy. She couldn’t play in the gold medal match then and this time she is in our roster, so lets see what happens.”
Canada used its first match against Trinidad & Tobago as a warm-uo for Monday’s game against the Dominican Republic.
“Trinidad and Tobago is a very young team and we expect stronger matches especially against the Dominicans.”said Lorne Sawula, the Canadian coach. “They rely on power and our game is of finesse, but we know each other very well and I expect a good confrontation,” he added. “They are the Pan American Games champions but our team improves with every match.”
Amy Tutt led the Canadians with 15 points and Tammy Mahon added 11. Kelly Billingy had 11 for Trinidad & Tobago.