Dominican Republic team ready for the Grand Prix challenges
Kwiek commented about the merits of his team during the official press conference held on Monday to launch the activities surrounding the opening leg of the premier annual women’s volleyball competition that will take place in Santo Domingo (and three other cities) for second consecutive year from August 2-4.
“We have been training hard and did a lot of testing with excellent results,” Kwiek said. “We won a bronze medal at the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland and then a silver medal at the Pan American Cup in Peru.”
“Our versatility is a plus and we can count now on dependable players to start and also to come off the bench,” Kwiek commented to the media. “I don’t have any doubt about this team and their real chances of success during the preliminary round.”
The 10th ranked Dominicans welcome ninth ranked Serbia, Puerto Rico (18th) and Czech Republic (24th) during the first weekend of actions at the Volleyball Palace in Santo Domingo before moving to Puerto Rico and Chinese Taipei for the next two stages.
Bethania De la Cruz, the new captain of Dominican Republic following the retirement of the now team manager Milagros Cabral, also sounded confident about the team’s capabilities.
“We are thrilled to have once again the opportunity to play in front of our people,” De la Cruz said. “I am pretty sure that we have the team to do a good job this year. We won’t let down our people and hope to have their full support during the matches.”
Twice in nine years of participation at the event, the Dominicans have finished as high as eighth in the world competition expanded to 20 teams, four more than last year, and De la Cruz said they are determined to improve those results.
“I think this can be a great year for us,” she added. “We feel very confident and we are arriving to the competition in top shape both physically and mentally.”
The probable starting team will consist of Annerys Vargas and Marianne Fersola as middle blockers, De la Cruz and Prisilla Rivera as outside hitters, Gina Mambru as opposite and setter Niverka Marte. The libero will be Brenda Castillo.
The other members of the team would be middle blocker Candida Arias, opposite Sidarka Nuñez, outside hitters Jeoselya Rodriguez and Yonkaira Peña, setter Karla Echenique, and defensive specialists Ana Yorkira Binet and Winifer Fernandez.
The opening day, Friday 2, sees Czech Republic facing Puerto Rico at 17:00 followed by the match of Serbia and Dominican Republic at 19:30.
On Saturday and Sunday the starting times are 14:30 and 17:00 with Serbia facing Czech Republic and Puerto Rico against Dominican Republic on August 3, and Serbia v Puerto Rico and Czech Republic v Dominican Republic on August 4.
Cristóbal Marte Hoffiz, who presides over the women’s program of the Dominican National Federation, took a turn during the meeting with the media to express his gratitude to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) for selecting Dominican Republic as one of the four hosts for the first phase of the event.
“We are very proud to host this event for second year in a row and we are ready to continue the trend next year,” Marte Hoffiz said. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to the FIVB and its President Dr. Ary Graça for giving us the unique chance to stage this prestigious event.”
He also paid recognition to the technical staff of the national team, the players and the organizing committee for “their devotion and love for our sport.”
The meeting with the media took place at the Conference Room of Claro Dominicana, the telecommunications corporation that is the main sponsor of the Dominican stage.
Osvaldo Villalona, manager of promotions of Claro Dominicana, said the prestige of the FIVB World Grand Prix and the high level of execution by the athletes, were the main reasons that created the conditions for the partnership with the local organizers.
“We had the opportunity to watch the action of last year and once again we wanted to be associated with this wonderful event,” Villalona said. “We wish good luck to all the participants, especially to our national team.”
A huge television and radio advertising campaign has been on the air for the past month promoting the Grand Prix and the Dominican Team and sellout crowds are expected for the three days as it was the case last year.