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United States, Dominican Republic to play in NORCECA title match

Dominican Republic's women will visit the final match of the NORCECA Continental Championship for third consecutive time
Omaha, Nebraska, September 20, 2013 – The United States and Dominican Republic won semifinal matches on Friday evening during the Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship being held at Ralston Arena in Nebraska.

Dominican Republic won the first semifinal match of the day by holding off Puerto Rico 25-18, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21. The United States defeated Canada 25-22, 25-14, 25-15 in the second semifinal. Earlier in the day Cuba defeated Costa Rica 26-24, 23-25, 25-15, 15-22 to finish in seventh place.

With a ticket to November's FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup in Japan at stake, the United States will meet Dominican Republic in the final on Saturday at 20:00 (local time) in a repeat gold-medal matchup of the most recent NORCECA Championship held in 2011. The Americans won that meeting to capture its sixth NORCECA Championship. Dominican Republic will be playing in the title match for the third consecutive time.

“The Dominican Republic is a great team,” United States captain Kristin Hildebrand said. “Every single time we play them it’s a battle.”

Puerto Rico and Canada will battle for the bronze medal on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. Trinidad & Tobago will face Mexico on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT in the fifth-place match. 

The tournament winner earns a berth to the season-ending FIVB Grand Champions Cup held in Nagoya and Tokyo in Japan in November. The six-team field includes the winner from each continental championship plus host Japan.

“I thought Canada came out and did a really nice job of attacking us, especially from the service line. We didn’t handle it that well,” United States coach Karch Kiraly said. “That’s actually our game plan. We want to be attacking every opponent that we face. In fact, they attacked us more than we attacked them. I feel like we were waiting for them to make some errors and they didn’t. They played some nice, clean volleyball. At some point, we had to make a decision to try to be proactive and not just wait; but start forcing them into some less-comfortable situations.”

 “We’re very happy with making it to the final,” Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek said. “That’s what we came here to accomplish. Although we made some errors, we will have enough time to prepare for tomorrow’s match.”

“I’m not 100 percent satisfied ever,” Cuba coach Juan C. Rodriguez said. “There are always things we can improve on and play better. The players are not used to playing for seventh place, so their energy wasn’t at the level we are used to. All the NORCECA Championships are great competitions, especially when the U.S. is the host. They do things at the top level. I was happy with the hospitality.”

United States 3, Canada 0
The United States earned a spot into the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship title match by defeating Canada 25-22, 25-14, 25-15. The United States, the defending champion of the biennial championship, will seek its seventh title in the tournament’s 23rd edition dating back to 1969. Kelly Murphy produced a match-high 12 points for the United States. Jordan Larson-Burbach, playing in her home state of Nebraska, added 10 points with a match-high three aces. Canada was led by Lucille Charuk’s seven points, while Tabitha Love, Jaimie Thibeault and Dana Cranston added six points in the loss. The United States out-served Canada 6-0 in aces and its offense generated a 37-24 advantage in kills. The Canadians held an 8-6 edge in blocks.

Dominican Republic 3, Puerto Rico 1
Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico 25-18, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21 Friday evening to earn a spot in the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship gold-medal match on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT. Bethania de La Cruz sparked Dominican Republic with a match-high 24 points and Gina Mambru Casilla added 16 points. Puerto Rico was paced by Karina Ocasio’s 20 points and Stephanie Enright contributed 13 in the loss. Dominican Republic won the battle at the net with a 13-7 block advantage, along with a 61-53 margin in kills. Puerto Rico scored a 5-1 advantage in aces.

Cuba 3, Costa Rica 0
Cuba defeated Costa Rica 26-24, 23-25, 25-15, 25-22 to finish in seventh place. Cuba, the youngest squad in the nine-team tournament, was led by its youngest player Melisa Vargas who had 18 points. She is one month shy of turning 14 years of age. Jennifer Yanet Alvarez added 15 points and Sulian Matienzo contributed 14 points. Costa Rica was paced by Verania Wills’ 20 points, followed by Paolo Ramirez Vargas’ 12 points. Cuba’s offense produced a 54-38 advantage in kills to complement margins of 12-9 in aces and 8-6 in blocks. Cuba ended the tournament with a 2-2 record and consecutive victories, which included a three-set win over St. Lucia on Thursday night. Costa Rica ended the tournament in eighth place with a 0-3 overall record.


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