Dominican Republic - more than a Cinderella team
The Caribbeans have already shown signs of significant growth in this tournament, which is designed to narrow the gap between the inexperience of agegroup categories and the much more competitive senior stage.
Ranked 41st in the senior world rankings before the tournament, Dominican Republic entered the first ever Men's U23 World Championship with the goal of earning experience against top-level teams.
In the first couple of days in Uberlandia Brazil and Bulgaria provided two hard defeats, harsh enough to demoralise them in their target.
However, the third time proved the charm for them as the team changed completely against Argentina, as predicted by head coach Osiel Vazquez, who said his team would play better against the South Americans because they knew them from previous tournaments like the Pan Am Cup. And indeed they did.
Argentina had to struggle a lot to overcome the Dominicans in a straight-set match that was far from comfortable, finally winning 21-14, 27-25, 24-22. "We showed some great spirit," said smiling Dominican captain Luis Adames Figueroa after the match.
"We proved to ourselves that these things are possible. We are a very short team and Argentina is so much better than us, but we gave our best and that's how we managed to play like that. We had a very positive mental attitude towards the match."
Dominican Republic also relied on the power of opposite Henry Tapia Santana, who was glowing after the battle. "We could have won this match. We're very happy because we improved from the first games, which we didn't play well, but now we're thankful for moving forward and we have faith that we can do better from now on."
Tapia went on to explain his team's reality a little further. "It's very difficult for us to leave our country to train and play, due to economic reasons, and so we don't have many opportunities like these. This gives us a big amount of experience for our regular schedule and a big confidence boost."