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Press releases
 
Dominicans aim to keep climbing
 
Tokyo, July 31, 2007: Statistics don’t lie, so there is no doubt that the Dominican Republic is heading in the right direction. Twelfth on their World Grand Prix debut in 2004, the Dominicans improved to 11th in 2005 and eighth last year on the FIVB’s annual women’s tour.

The target of head coach Beato Cruz in the 2007 edition, therefore, is just to keep moving forward. “In the Grand Prix this year we are aiming for seventh place,” Cruz said, during a training camp in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, before the team headed for the official hotel in Tokyo on Tuesday. “Of course it would be great if we could go to the final round in China as one of the best six teams, but we know this will be difficult. “Brazil, Italy, Russia, China…there are many strong teams in the competition, but we have the possibility to win some matches.”

Ranked 14th in the world by the FIVB, the Dominicans will start their fourth World Grand Prix campaign with games against Cuba, Japan and Kazakhstan at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo this weekend. In order to prepare for this crucial opening phase, the Dominicans arrived in Japan on July 26 and have been based at Ageo, 35 kilometers north of the capital. With world No. 4 Italy (twice), No. 3 China and second-ranked Brazil coming up in later rounds, Cruz knows it is vital to get some early wins if they hope to qualify for the finals in Ningbo, China, from August 22-26.

“Our first game is against Cuba,” he said. “It’s a difficult start but we have a chance to win. Cuba beat us 3-0 in the Pan American Cup in Mexico recently, but we beat Cuba 3-0 in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia last year. We know them well. “The Japanese have a very fast attack and are strong in fielding, but we have a lot of power in serve and attack. “As for Kazakhstan, I have seen them play only on video, and I think blocking will be very important in this game.”

Cruz said that Kazakhstan, on their Grand Prix debut, plus Poland and Chinese Taipei in later rounds offered the best chances of a Dominican win, with Cuba and Japan more difficult but not out of reach. Already this season his players have been picking up individual awards in the Pan American Games and Pan American Cup, notably the prolific Bethania de la Cruz and middle blocker Cindy Rondon, both 18, and libero Carmen Rosa Caso.

But these are veterans compared to Brenda Castillo, who turned 15 as recently as June 5. “She is in the first year of high school and is a reception specialist,” says Cruz. “This is her third tournament after the Pan American Cup and Pan American Games and she has shown no nerves whatsoever. She has played very well when given the chance.”

With plenty of youth around, plus the experience of Annerys Vargas, Milagros Cabral and captain Cosiri Rodriguez, the Dominicans will be hoping to keep going up in the world at the 2007 World Grand Prix.

 

  
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