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Cuba and United States qualify for U20 World Championship

USA's setter Jordyn Poulter executed with precision during the match against Dominican Republic on Saturday
Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 13, 2014 – Cuba and the United States have qualified for the Women's U-20 World Championship and are set to battle for the gold medal in the NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship on Sunday at Teodoro Palacios Flores Gymnasium in Guatemala. 

While advancing to the final match, both teams qualified for the 2015 FIVB World Championship of the age-group category.

In the past eight editions of the continental event, USA have won the NORCECA title on five occasions and Cuba once.
Sunday’s schedule also features Costa Rica against Guatemala for fifth place, followed by the bronze-medal match between Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Cuba 3, Mexico 1
The 3-1 (25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 25-20) victory over Mexico earned Cuba a ticket to next year’s age-group FIVB World Championship. Cuba’s brilliant performance and euphoric celebration after the win brought tears of joy from players and the staff. The Cubans based their victory on another solid performance by 14 years-old Melissa Vargas, who once again showed her exceptional skills. Mexico out-blocked Cuba 14-8, had a 12-10 ace advantage and made fewer unforced errors (20-35) but couldn’t overcome Cuba’s impressive superiority of 51-29 in spikes. Vargas led Cuba’s offensive with 27 points, including five aces. Also with double figures in the winning cause, outside hitter Diaris Perez had 14 points while setter Gretell Moreno finished with 11 points. In the losing effort, middle blocker Patricia Valle scored 14 points followed by outside hitter Fernanda Guitron with 13 points.

United States 3, Dominican Republic 0
USA beat defending champions Dominican Republic in straight sets (25-16, 25-20, 25-18) to reach the final and get the last berth available for the 2015 FIVB World Championship. United States performed to their highest level in the tournament as they completed the preliminary round in comfortable fashion. USA prevailed with a wide 44-28 margin in spikes and 10-5 difference in blocks. In the aces category, the Dominicans led 3-2. Middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan was USA’s top scorer with 14 points, while outside hitter Cortney Schwan contributed 13 points and opposite Hayley Hodson chipped in with 10 points. Dominican outside hitter Brayelin Martinez scored 15 points. 

Nicaragua 3, Martinique 0
Nicaragua defeated Martinique 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-23) for seventh place. Nicaragua came out on top for their second victory, finishing the tournament with a 2-2 win-loss record and seventh place. The victory wasn’t easy for the Central American team as Martinique put up a fight.  Nicaragua managed to commit fewer errors (28-40) than Martinique and held the advantage in spikes (30-21). Both teams had their captains as offensive leaders with Nicaragua’s Florelisa Smith with 12 points and Martinique’s Maelle Paulin with 11 points.

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