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Dominicans ready for the challenge in Japan

Brazilian Marcos Kwiek has been at the helm of the Dominican women's team for two years with excellent results

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, October 26, 2010 – Victories over powerhouses China and Italy at this year's FIVB World Grand Prix have acted as a confidence-builder for the Dominican Republic team now preparing to take part in the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship.

This is the view of the team's Brazilian coach, Marcos Kwiek, speaking from their training base at Denso, who believes his team are ready to "make a noise" in Japan. If those five-set wins were a shot in the arm for the Dominicans, currently ranked 11th in the world, Kwiek also draws confidence from what he considers his squad's strength in depth.

"Our goal is to make the final 12-team round and anything after that will be a plus," Kwiek said about the Caribbean squad, who also won a five-setter against Germany during the Grand Prix. "The team are well prepared and ready to make noise at this World Championship. What I really like about our team is the depth we have now. We can count on players on the bench who are capable to do the same job as those in the starting squad. Actually, the team we had in the FIVB World Grand Prix consisted of many of our substitutes."

This will be the Dominican Republic's seventh participation in the FIVB World Championship. In 2006 they crashed out in the first round and finished 17th. Their top finish was 11th in 1998 when the tournament only included 16 participants.

Winners of the Pan American Cup, Central American and Caribbean Games, Final Four Cup and Unique Cup in 2010, the Dominicans met the Netherlands in two warm-up games last week, losing the first 3-1 but prevailing 3-2 in the second.

Veterans Milagros Cabral, the wing-spiker, and middle-blocker Annerys Vargas, both members of the starting six for Kwiek, will be taking part in their fourth consecutive World Championship. The other regulars include setter Karla Echenique, opposite Sidarka Nunez, wing-spiker Prisilla Rivera and middle-blocker Lisvel Eve. The libero is Brenda Castillo.

Coach Kwiek is without opposite Altagracia Mambru who suffered an arm injury during a recent tournament in Peru, but he has brought along Bethania De La Cruz who is making a comeback after a year’s sabbatical after giving birth. “Bethania will be coming off the bench and she will be a great help even though she has not reached top shape,” Kwiek said of the wing-spiker who was part of the Toray Arrows team that won the Japanese V-League in 2008.

The rest of the team includes wing-spikers Dahiana Burgos and Ana Yorkira Binet, middle-blockers Cindy Rondon and Candida Arias, middle-blockers and defender Rosa Caso.

The Dominican Republic team are in Pool D in Osaka where they will face Russia – their first opponents on Friday – Korea, Turkey, China, and Canada. In the second round, Pool D crosses over with Pool A (Algeria, Costa Rica, Japan, Poland, Peru and Serbia) to form Pool E in Tokyo. The semifinals and finals will take place in Tokyo on November 13-14.

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