Dominican Republic with seasoned team at Pan Am Cup
Mexico City, Mexico, June 10, 2014 – The Dominican Republic, fully armed with its top players available, has emerged a pre-tournament favorite to win the thirteenth edition of the Women’s Pan American Cup that serves off in Mexico City and Pachuca on Wednesday.
The team coached by Brazilian Marcos Kwiek includes big names like Bethania De la Cruz and libero Brenda Castillo along with high-caliber athletes such as Annerys Vargas, the veteran middle blocker.
In spite of their on paper superiority, Kwiek took a conservative position when he commented about his team’s chances of winning its third title in the event.
“I hope we can take home one of the medals,” he said at the end of the General Technical Meeting.
Cuban Juan Carlos Gala said Pool A “looks very even with the exception of Dominican Republic which is here with its full squad.”
Most of the coaches of teams qualified to the World Grand Prix and the World Championship are using the Pan American Cup, their first competition of the season, as a preparation project for the months ahead.
Here the excerpts of their statements on Tuesday night at the Fiesta Inn Airport Hotel:
Guillermo Orduna, Argentina: “As always our expectative is to be among the top teams in the cup and qualify to next year’s World Grand Prix. We have expanded the training team to have more competition to make the team now that we are qualified to the world championship. We have brought a new libero and two players who are under-18 like Sol Piccolo and Elina Rodriguez.”
Arnd Ludwig, Canada: “The Pan American Cup is a very valuable tournament in a very long season as we prepare for the Grand Prix and the World Championship. Some players had to stay back at home with injuries and some needed to rest after concluding their seasons. We are ready to fight and play hard in this always interesting Pan Am Cup.”
Mauro Marasciulo, Colombia: “We have a very young team and I hope we can represent Colombia well and prepare for the South American Tournament in Popayán, Colombia from August 18-24. It is good chance to compete and see our conditions and, with a little luck, to reach the Grand Prix, something that would be historic for Colombia.”
Horacio Bastit, Costa Rica: “We have a team that combines experience with three girls making their first international presentation. Because of the strong pool it will be difficult to qualify among the top teams. Our objective is to qualify to the Grand Prix and we hope to battle for one of the last spots of NORCECA to that event.”
Juan Carlos Gala, Cuba: “Our main goal is to stay in the second group of the World Grand Prix. The team is young but is well motivated after qualifying to the world championship last month. The pool looks even with the exception of Dominican Republic which is here with the full squad. Hopefully we can play good volleyball. The action in court will have the last word.”
Marcos Kwiek, Dominican Republic: “We are following up our program that is very busy this year in preparation for the world championship. Our main goal is to qualify to the 2015 Grand Prix. We just played a very strong tournament in Montreux and all the players are in excellent shape. The Pan American Cup is a very important event for us and we hope to take home one of the medals.”
Jorge Azair, Mexico: “It is a new experience even though I worked with female teams in the past. We have to move step by step. We need to change habits of discipline and physical preparation. I am starting to work with them. They are talented but we have to be patient. My main goal is to prepare the team for the final playoffs towards the world championship.
Natalia Málaga, Peru: “We come with a relatively young team with players mostly between 17-22 years old. Most of them will be taking part in their first senior competition. We will take whatever is for us under the best conditions. Our goal is to learn and improve and see the level we are to continue working.”
Jose Mieles, Puerto Rico: “Our team is mixed with young and veterans as we continue rotating players and working with a new generation. Hopefully we can make it to the World Grand Prix and keep up the preparation for the world championship.
Francisco Cruz, Trinidad & Tobago: “We are taking the Pan American Cup as a preparation for the NORCECA final playoff tournament, towards the world championship, which will be held at home. We won’t have all our players here for the first two matches and our captain (Kelly-Anne Billingy) couldn’t make the trip because of her job.”
Jamie Morrison, United States: “Very excited to be in Mexico and very excited for the competition. We understand the competition is very good and we will try our very best to do a good job in the court and hopefully win our third title in a row.”