PRESS RELEASE 17.09.2003


Cuba and Canada move to NORCECA Women's Continental Championship semifinals

September 17, 2003 - Cuba and Canada advanced to the semifinals of the Norceca Women’s Championship after scoring easy victories in the quarterfinals of this qualifier event for the World Cup.

Cuba defeated Puerto Rico 25-6, 25-15, 25-14 and will meet the Dominican Republic in a rematch of last month's encounter during the Pan American Games won by the Dominicans while Canada beat Costa Rica 25-18, 25-8, 25-15 and will face United States.

“It is a match with a lot hanging on it,” said Luis Felipe Calderon, the Cuban coach. “The Dominicans have been playing very well against us lately. Its going to be necessary to keep the concentration all the way in order to defeat the Dominicans, an inspired team playing at home.”

Yumilka Ruiz, the Cuban captain, said: “The Dominican Republic is a growing team, but we will have to go out to play for one of the two places in the next World Cup, and that is our goal.”

Canada also have a tough assignment against USA, the favorite to win the gold medal in this tournament.

“We will face in USA, a very talented team, but we are going to give our best,” said Lorne Sawula, the Canadian coach. “Being in the final four fulfill our goal. Now we want a medal.”

Sarah Pavan led the Canadians against Costa Rica with 14 points, scoring 8 out of 12 spikes attempts while Amy Tutt and Barb Bellinin had 13 and 12 points respectively. Verania and Angela Willis scored 9 and 8 for Costa Rica.

Shawula praised the talent of Pavan, a tall young lefty who has been the sensation of the tournament.

“She is going to be a an unique player,” said Shawula. “The girl is only 17-years-old, but in a couple of years she is going to be something special. She belongs to an exceptional breed.”

On Thursday, Puerto Rico will play Costa Rica for the fifth place while the USA-Canada clash and the Cuba-Dominican Republic match close the day.