Fukuoka, Japan, November 15, 2009 – The Dominican Republic put themselves in bronze medal contention with a strong win over South Korea on Sunday on the final day of the FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup 2009 at Marine Messe in Fukuoka.
The Dominicans beat Korea 25-17, 25-18, 25-22 and finished with a 3-2 record with Japan, who plays Italy in the final match of the tournament, standing in their way having won two, lost two. Korea, meanwhile, ended the tournament in fifth place with one win from five matches.
Captain Milagros Cabral de la Cruz and Prisilla Rivera were the top scorers for the Dominican Republic with 15 points each, while Annerys Vargas had 14. Hwang Youn Joo led South Korea with 13 points, one more than Kim Yeon Koung.
Coming off a morale-boosting win over Japan on Saturday, the Dominican Republic came into the game with confidence and they started to show it immediately as they pulled away from South Korea after falling behind by one point at the first technical timeout. By the second TTO, they were four points ahead and they increased that to eight points at 22-14. Captain Milagros Cabral de la Cruz was in good form while Yeon-Koung Kim continued to lead the Korean team. The Dominicans were helped by two straight unreturned serves by Lisvel Elisa Eve and some wayward shooting by the Koreans. A pair of spikes by Cabral brought up setpoint and then the set winner.
Both teams seemed to be avoiding spiking at the start of the second set with six of the first 12 points coming from gentle tipovers. Sa-Nee Kim contributed two for Korea, but her netted service allowed the Dominicans – who were serving well – to move three points ahead at the first TTO. The Dominicans were playing with a lot of confidence, while the Koreans were fighting hard but struggling to cope. Prisilla Rivera was spiking and defending superbly and the Dominicans continued to serve well. Yeon-Koung's early form tailed off but Youn-Joo Hwang laid down some hefty spikes. Se-Young Kim came up with a couple of huge blocks that brought the Koreans to within three points at 18-15, but Cabral put her team back on track with a good block and a classy, angled tipover. A great serve by Annerys Vargas that the Koreans couldn't handle brought up setpoint and a Cabral spike put the Dominican Republic two sets up.
The Koreans came out strong to start the third set and picked up a service ace from 16-year-old Jeong Ah Park, but some sloppy plays allowed the Dominican Republic to stay with them and things were all tied at 13. Both sides then started to lose concentration. The Dominicans failed to get two serves in and were caught out of position, while Hyo-Jin Yang also netted a serve for the Koreans. Korea had a two-point advantage at the second TTO, but then the Dominicans found their form again. Vargas had a good spike and a service winner and Cabral made a massive block on Yeon-Koung. After Eve produced a spike, a Korean mixup and a venomous spike by Cabral allowed the Dominicans to go three points ahead at 20-17. The Koreans closed the gap to two points, but the Dominicans crept toward their goal and had three matchpoints at 24-21 following a spike down the middle from Vargas. Captain Cabral then sealed the victory with a little push shot from the left to spark muted celebrations bearing in mind Japan's match was to follow.