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North American duos book places in Nanjing

USA’s Suzanne Muno (left) and Sarah Sponcil will be winging their way to Nanjing for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Fajardo, Puerto Rico, December 8, 2013 – After two finals that pitted sides from Canada and the USA against one another, both countries qualified a team apiece for the inaugural beach volleyball competition at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

In the girl’s final USA’s Suzanne Muno and Sarah Sponcil needed three sets to overcome Canadian twins Megan and Nicole McNamara 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 16-14) and win the NORCECA Central Zone Girls’ Qualification Tournament.

“Winning a spot to the Nanjing Games is awesome,” Sponcil said after the match. “It is the first time we have been in a qualification tournament and we decided to leave everything on the court. We really never thought about the score.”

Canada’s boys turned the tables a day later when Jake MacNeil and Andrew Richards sealed their spot with a thrilling 2-1 (17-21, 26-24, 15-12) victory over United States’ Louis Richards Torey DeFalco under rainy conditions at Seven Seas Beach.

It completed MacNeil and Richards’ run of unbeaten matches, though they made a slow start after playing three sets in the semifinals against Mexico’s Luis Ramos and Jesus Rodriguez.

“I am thrilled and speechless after this great moment,” MacNeil said. “We won the trials in Canada six months ago to come to this tournament and we have been training very hard since then. The hard work has paid off.”

Richards added. “It is like a dream representing our country in the Nanjing Games and I want to give credit to my partner, my coaches and my parents.”

They are the first pairs from NORCECA to secure their place in the Youth Olympics, which run from August 16-28. Teams will get another chance to qualify at the NORCECA Final Play-Off in March 2014, which will feature the silver and bronze medallists from the four NORCECA Zonal Tournaments.

Girls’ Results
Semifinals: CAN d MEX 2-0 (21-11, 21-17), USA d PUR 2-0 (29-27, 21-16)
Bronze Medal Match: MEX d PUR 2-1 (23-21, 13-21, 20-18)
Gold Medal Match: USA d CAN 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 16-14)
Final Positions: 1. United States, 2. Canada, 3. Mexico, 4. Puerto Rico.
Boys’ Results
Semifinals: CAN d MEX 2-1 (21-14, 23-25, 15-13), USA d PUR 2-0 (21-13, 21-14)
Bronze Medal Match: PUR d MEX 2-0 (25-23, 21-19) Gold Medal Match: CAN d USA 2-1 (17-21, 26-24, 15-12)
Final Positions: 1. Canada, 2. United States, 3. Puerto Rico, 4. Mexico.

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