USA win gold at NORCECA U-20 Women’s
Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 14, 2014 - United States blanked Cuba 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-16) in the gold medal match of the NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship at Teodoro Palacios Flores Gymnasium in Guatemala City on Sunday.
United States and Cuba both were impressive battling strong from start to finish. It seemed like the pressure of being already qualified to next year’s FIVB World Championship unleashed USA’s best offensive and defensive tactics.
USA achieved their sixth NORCECA title with an undefeated record and without dropping a set.
United States’ game was based on a team effort while Cuba team relied mostly on Melissa Vargas’ attacks. USA managed to top Cuba in attacks 32-26 margin in kills; they also led in the blocking category by a wide margin of 14-7 as well as in serves by 8-2. USA made fewer unforced errors (18-21) than Cuba.
USA was led by middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan, who notched 15 points, 4 blocks and 2 aces included; opposite Hayley Hodson also contributed to the win with 14 points. Cuba’s outside hitter Melissa Vargas topped with 12 points, along with outside hitter Diaris Perez with 11 points.
“It feels good to win the gold and to qualify to the world championship undefeated and without dropping a set as a reward for playing hard. We’ll now return to play for our own clubs and continue in our individual development as players,” USA’s captain Hayley Hodson said.
Cuba’s captain Carmela Massip, always with a smile and high attitude said: “My team played without the pressure of qualifying to the world championship, it would have been good to win the tournament but USA play really hard. I always motivate my teammates but the real leader in our team is our libero, Dayessi Luis.”
USA’s coach Thomas Hogan expressed that this young Cuban squad reminds him Cuba’s national team “Morenas del Caribe”.
“They have a bright future ahead; Melissa Vargas is a combination of Mireya Ruiz and Nancy Carrillo, she plays unbelievably well,” he said.
Hogan also praised Guatemala’s organizing efforts. “I’ve been to many tournaments and this competition was one of the best”.
Cuban coach Tomas Fernandez said “the players had difficulties to keep their concentration because we have already reached our goal. I am proud of my team because they did a spectacular effort beating Dominican Republic, which was expected to play the gold medal match. Technically speaking, USA is much more superior than us and individually their players have great physical attributes”.
In the bronze medal match, Dominican Republic dominated Mexico in straight sets 25-17, 25-16, 25-19 with Mexico putting up a strong resistance. The Dominicans showed solid offensive and blocking, while Mexicans struggled watching their defense to crumble.
Costa Rica beat Guatemala 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-9, 25-15) for the fifth place of the tournament.
1. United States
3. Dominican Republic
5. Costa Rica
9. St. Lucia
MVP: Rhamat Alhassan, USA
Best Scorer: Melissa Vargas, CUB
Best Server: Melissa Vargas, CUB
Best Receiver: Molly Sauer, USA
Best Digger: Molly Sauer, USA
Outside Hitter: Courtney Schwan, USA
Outside Hitter: Diaris Perez, CUB
Middle Blocker: Rhamat Alhassan, USA
Middle Blocker: Patricia Valle, MEX
Opposite: Gaila Gonzalez, DOM
Setter: Jordyn Poulter, USA
Libero: Dayessi Luis, CUB