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De la Cruz carries Dominicans to win over Czech Republic


Bethania De la Cruz (left) joins her teammates to celebrate the victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 4, 2013 – Bethania De la Cruz scored a match-high of 28 points carrying the Dominican Republic to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18) victory over the Czech Republic in the last match of Pool B to close the first weekend of action in the FIVB World Grand Prix on Sunday.

The powerful attacker reserved her best offensive skills for the final stages of the match when she scored the last five points for the winning side. In total she had 24 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Prisilla Rivera, who had four aces, contributed 14 points while Jeoselyna Rodriguez and Annerys Vargas chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively.

Aneta Havlickova topped the Czech side with 19 points while Tereza Vanzurova and Michaela Mlejnkova each recorded 11 points.

The home side held the advantage in spikes 57-39 and serving aces 9-6 while the defeated team was better in the blocking category 12-9 and made 24 unforced errors to 28 by the winners.

The Dominican Republic concluded the first weekend with a 2-1 win-loss record and six points while Czech Republic closed at 1-2 with 3 points.

The Czech Republic led 8-4 in the first set. When the gap widened to 10-4, the Dominicans called for time-out and then climbed back steadily behind the spikes of Bethania De la Cruz and new setter Niverka Marte who replaced Karla Echenique. The Czechs led 16-14 at the second technical time out following a right-hand bomb by Aneta Havlickova. When play resumed Havlickova continued her pounding, increasing the gap to 18-14. The scores tied at 18-all when Michaela Mlejnkova’ spike sailed long. De la Cruz broke the tie with a back-court spike and, after a time-out, served an ace for 20-18. Havlickova tied it again parlaying spike and ace. Then Prisilla Rivera landed two spikes around an opponent error for a 23-20 lead. The first set closed at 25-22.

It was a close battle early in the second set when the Czech Republic took an 8-7 lead after an error from the Dominican side. Annerys Vargas gave the Dominicans a 13-11 margin finishing a fast attack and the home side led 16-14 at the second technical time-out. The battle between Havlickova and De la Cruz kept the fans off their seats for the most part of the set, but then it was Rivera who led the local team in the final stretch with a spike followed by her own ace for a 22-16 advantage. Kubinova followed her spike with two consecutive aces to cap a late Czech reaction. At 24-20, De la Cruz closed it with a laser shot for 25-20.

With the scores tied at 6-6, Rivera and De la Cruz scored consecutive spikes following a spectacular save by libero Brenda Castillo for an 8-6 advantage of the Dominican side. At 11-7, the Czech team called for time-out. Havlickova and De la Cruz traded terrific kills and Marianne Fersola served an ace off the net. When Vargas blocked Havlickova, the Dominicans increased their advantage to 16-9. Vargas blocked Mlejnkova when the action resumed and continued with a running spike from the right side. The Dominicans were somehow caught by over-anxiety and made an incredible streak of errors combined with the offense of Havlickova and Mlejnkova. At 19-16, Mlejnkova served an ace and Monzoni blocked Mambru. The Czechs scored a rally of consecutive points from further Dominican errors and led 23-19 when the hosts came back to cut the distance at 24-23 as Fersola blocked Havlickova. Tereza Vanzurova closed the set for the Czech Republic at 25-23.

The Czech team moved to an 8-6 lead when Pavla Vincourova blocked Rivera. The European side maintained the two-point difference at the second technical time-out, helped by the attacks of Vanzurova. The hosts tied at 16-all with an ace by Rivera but Vanzurova answered back from the other side of the net. De la Cruz combined spike and block against Vanzurova for a two-point lead. Havlickova and Vargas exchanged spikes. De la Cruz landed two consecutive bombs for 22-18 and then tipped in another. De la Cruz capped the action, combining spike and block against Vanzurova for a 25-18 score and the match. 

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