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Dominican Republic and Panama to open NORCECA Women’s

The nine coaches hoping to take their team to the NORCECA Women's Continental Championship in Caguas, Puerto Rico

Caguas, Puerto Rico, September 11, 2011 – Defending champions Dominican Republic will square off against Panama in the opening match of the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship, which will run from September 12 to 17 in Caguas, Puerto Rico, as they go on the hunt for a spot at the 2011 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup.

The eventual champions will travel to Japan from November 4 to 18 where the top three teams will seal their place at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The 7,000-seater Hector Sola Bezares Coliseum will host the tournament and is expected to be full of passionate volleyball fans.

The opening day also sees Canada take on Trinidad and Tobago and hosts Puerto Rico clash with Costa Rica.

The technical meeting took place on Sunday night at Four Points Hotel in Caguas, 21 kilometers to the south of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.

The nine coaches all had something to say ahead of the tournament as they look to lead their team to glory.

Canada coach, Arnd Ludwig: “It is important that we keep improving. We want to play better than in our last tournament. The team is well prepared physically and our goal is to reach the semifinals.”

Costa Rica coach, Braulio Godinez: “We hoped to put on a better display than in the Pan American Cup now that we have Verania Willis back with us. But unfortunately we lost Karen Cope due to the death of her mother last Thursday and the absence of our regular setter Dionisia Thompson for work reasons. We plan to use the chance to play some of our younger players, including second setter Irene Fonseca. It will be a good opportunity for her.”

Cuba coach, Juan Carlos Gala: “We have prepared very well for this tournament and we are looking for qualification to the World Cup, which is our main objective. The court will have the last word.”

Dominican Republic coach, Marcos Kwiek: “This is one of the most important events for us in our calendar. The team has worked well since our return from the Grand Prix. We know we will have very strong opponents trying to qualify for the World Cup. It will be no different for us because we are in the same position and it is the most important competition for the rest of the year.”

Mexico coach, Mario Herrera: “We added some players from the U-18 team and also have two setters with experience in Daniela Lloreda, who played in the Puerto Rican League, as well as Nancy Ortega. The new players are Samantha Bricio, Alejandra Isiordia and Andrea Rangel and they have a good level. At the Pan American Cup we learned where we were so we had time to modify our training plan.”

Panama coach, Reynaldo Ortega: “The team is very satisfied to qualify for this tournament. It has been 25 years since the last time Panama took part in a NORCECA women’s event. The girls are focused and well prepared physically and psychologically and will give their best during the competition.”

Puerto Rico coach, David Aleman: “The team has been training very hard in preparation for this because all the teams are bringing their best players, trying to qualify to the World Cup. We are prepared for a quite difficult tournament.”

Trinidad and Tobago coach Francisco Cruz: “We have had some injury problems with certain players and also some difficulties with the training program. We didn’t train enough and that’s going to have its effects on the team’s performance. Nevertheless, the athletes are motivated and that is positive. I hope they give their best despite these difficulties.”

USA coach, Hugh McCutcheon: “We are excited and ready to compete at the NORCECA Championship. Obviously our goal is to qualify for the FIVB World Cup. We have been working hard this summer to improve as a team and this tournament gives us another opportunity to do that. I think our athletes have earned the right to stand out there against anyone in the world and feel like they can win.”

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