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Dominican Republic qualify for London after winning NORCECA women's final

The Dominican Republic's Milagros Cabral (L) and Annerys Vargas celebrate winning the NORCECA Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament and qualification to the London Games

Tijuana, Mexico, May 5, 2012 – The Dominican Republic became the sixth women’s team to qualify to the volleyball tournament at the 2012 London Games after defeating Cuba in four thrilling sets 25-18, 25-23, 27-29, 25-20 in the final of the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Tijuana, Mexico on Saturday.

The world No. 9 joins Italy, United States and China - who qualified to London through the FIVB World Cup last November in Japan - African champions Algeria and hosts Great Britain. A total of 12 teams will eventually qualify with the Europe final taking place on Sunday followed by the South America qualification tournament (one vacancy) next week and a combined Asia and World Olympic Qualification Tournament, which offers one and three more vacancies respectively, later this month.

Olympic Games Women’s Volleyball Qualified Teams
Hosts                                                                        Great Britain
2011 World Cup winners                                              Italy
2011 World Cup runners up                                         USA
2011 World Cup third place                                         China
Africa winners                                                             Algeria
NORCECA winners                                                       Dominican Republic
CEV winners                                                               Final on May 6
CSV winners                                                               May 8-14
AVC winners                                                               May 19-27
World Olympic Qualification Tournament                      (three vacancies) May 19-27

It is the second time that the Dominican Republic has qualified for the Olympics having finished 11th in their first edition in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

Bethania De La Cruz, who earned the Most Valuable Player award, registered 25 points to spearhead the Dominican attack in the final, followed by Milagros Cabral, Annerys Vargas and Lisvel Eve with 12, 11 and 10 points respectively. Cuba’s Yoana Palacios finished with 24 points and Wilma Salas charted 14.

The Dominicans held a 13-9 advantage in the blocking department with Vargas leading with four blocks followed by Eve and Cabral with three apiece. The winners also were better in the service division 9-3 with Vargas registering three.

“To tell the truth I don’t have words to say what the feeling is,” said Brazilian Marcos Kwiek, the coach of Dominican Republic. “This is the result of four years of hard work and we were rewarded with the ticket to the London Games. The girls did a fantastic job and kept a high level of concentration during the whole tournament and I also want to thank my technical staff and all the people who have supported us.”

Dominican Republic captain Cabral said: “I want to thank our head coach. In this match we went on to the court with a lot of desire. We fought and wanted badly to go to London 2012.”

“These matches are always very difficult,” commented Cuba’s Coach Juan Carlos Gala. “Every time Cuba and the Dominican Republic face each other the matches are tough. We made our tactical plan, but the players were very tense. The Dominican Republic defined the match. I want to congratulate them and wish the best while representing NORCECA at the Olympic Games.”

Due to their runner's up position, Cuba will now go to Japan for the Women's World Olympic Qualification Tournament, which will take place from May 19 to 27.

Puerto Rico v Canada
World-ranked No. 19 Puerto Rico claimed the bronze medal after beating world No. 22 Canada 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-11). Sarai Alvarez and Aury Cruz were the main offensive contributors to the victory with 29 and 24 points respectively while Jetzabel Del Valle chipped in 14. Canada’s Sarah Pavan finished the match with a tournament-high 32 points while Marisa Field tallied 12.

Mexico v Costa Rica
Hosts Mexico handed Costa Rica a 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-22) defeat in the match for fifth place. Alejandra Isiordia and Karla Sainz were Mexico’s top scorers with 16 and 10 points respectively and Claudia Rios added seven. Costa Rica’s Verania Willis had a match-high 21 points and Karen Cope charted eight. Both teams served six aces but Mexico was better in the blocking category 8-4. Costa Rica made 27 errors to 18 by the winners.

Trinidad and Tobago v Honduras
Trinidad and Tobago defeated Honduras in straight sets (25-10, 25-15, 25-23) in the match of seventh place. Abigail Gloud and Krystle Esdelle had 15 and 10 points respectively for the winners while Renele Forde and Delana Mitchell charted eight apiece.  Honduras’ Catarine Leiva collected five points.

Final Positions: 1. Dominican Republic, 2. Cuba, 3. Puerto Rico, 4. Canada, 5. Mexico, 6. Costa Rica, 7. Trinidad and Tobago, 8. Honduras.

Individual Awards
MVP: Bethania De La Cruz (DOM)
Best Scorer: Sarah Pavan (CAN)
Best Spiker: Yoana Palacios (CUB)
Best Server: Yanelis Santos (CUB)
Best Blocker: Annerys Vargas (DOM)
Best Setter: Vilmarie Mojica (PUR)
Best Receiver: Brenda Castillo (DOM)
Best Digger: Itzel Gaytan (MEX)
Best Libero: Brenda Castillo (DOM)



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