- Published in Sports
The opening matches of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, jointly hosted by Italy and Bulgaria, recorded sell-out crowds on the opening night on Sunday, as fans packed the two arenas to watch some of the world’s best volleyball athletes in action.
Italy’s opening 3-0 victory over Japan at the Foro Italico in Rome, drew a capacity crowd of 11,170 which included Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic.
Not to be outdone, Bulgaria also enjoyed a sell-out crowd, with almost 5,000 fans watching the team’s opening 3-0 victory over Finland at the Palace of Sport and Culture in Varna. And like in Rome, among those present were Bulgaria President Rumen Radev and Minister for Sport Krasen Kralev.
The Men’s World Championship has become the most in-demand event in Bulgaria, after it was confirmed by the country’s leading online ticket retailer, eventim.bg, that tickets for matches in Varna had reached number one on the website’s most searched list.
Tickets for the semifinals and final in Turin, Italy, have almost sold out as excitement builds around the FIVB’s engaging new sports presentation, which includes a courtside DJ and MC to maximise fan experience. However, there are still a few opportunities left to secure seats for one of world volleyball’s most prestigious events.
With the event being jointly hosted for the first time in FIVB history, more fans than ever before can witness the incredible athleticism up close. Teams will play throughout Italy and Bulgaria, competing for a spot in the third and final round.
Cuba won the gold and the only ticket available to the FIVB 2019 World Championship by beating the Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-20) in The Norceca Sub-21 Men's Volleyball Tournament.
In the most coherent match of the tournament, stable level as efficiency in the receipt and serve, the host improved the bronze that Cuba obtained in the last event in Gatineau 2016, where the United States and Canada led in that order, while for the Dominicans it was their second metal in the history of the category, since they also achieved silver in 1998.
The hosts surpassed their combative adversaries in attack (38-28) and service (9-3), were inferior in blocking (5-8), but committed only 12 errors to 23 by the visitors.
The opposite José Carlos Romero was the leading scorer with 16 and was followed by Julio Cárdenas with 12 points, while for the Dominicans Bayron Valdez with 15 again was the workhorse of his team.
Jesús Ángel Cruz, local coach, said that "there were no gaps, some bad times normal in this age, but we never left the control of the match, since we started we took it by the hand and maintained the intensity, which was not the case against in the initial set of the duel in the group A, as also with Canada in the semifinal, but tonight was the opposite because we knew that we played the classification to the World Championship".
"The current generation of the national team is very good and we hope this group added to it because it also has talent and as this becomes a reality with those who continue to ascend we can aspire to insert ourselves on the world level, to the people, to those who follow us who have confidence of the youth that there is in the Cuban School of Volleyball, that has had difficult moments, but it has never disappeared,” he said.
For his part the young Romero said that "the coach told us that for having beaten the Dominicans in the group we could not trust because they came with encouragement and desire to continue triumphing, to make everything strong, the game of us and so it went, and we feel happy because it is the result of so much training and sacrifices."
José Dante Mañón, Dominican coach expressed excited that "it is a silver that tastes gold, in history we had never defeated the United States in a Norceca, despite the size of my boys with theirs and Cuba, they have to double effort, and other details come together and go out, Bayron, the best attacker of the tournament, and today looked exhausted like the Americans against Canada.
"This was a tournament with many games and very short, only rest those who advance directly to the semifinals, and today fatigue has been the main factor against the performance of my team," he added.
Bayron, the captain of the “quisqueyanos”, explained that "it was a tournament of excellent level, we could not win the title but today we did what we could, we are a little tired, but that is not an excuse, although I wanted to win, I do not settle with nothing, however I cannot deny that I'm happy with this medal and I have to be proud of it ".
Cuba defeated Mexico 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 28-26) and won their third bronze medal in the Pan American Cup U23.
Cuba had Laura Suárez (15), Ailama Cese (15), Jessica Aguilera (12) and Moreno Thalia (11) as main attackers. In Mexico Melanie Parra, 15 years old, was the top scorer with 17 points, followed by Sofia Maldonado who finished with 15 points and Grecia Castro with 12.
The team coached by Tomás Fernández overcame Mexico with advantage in attack (55-46) and service (9-5), but both got 12 points in blocking. The unforced errors were even, 26 the winner and 24 the loser.
Diaris Pérez, captain of Cuba: "This cup was a good experience for our next tournaments. Although we did not have much time to train as a team, we are happy to have won the bronze medal, and it motivates us to train harder to improve and keep adding medals for our country. "
Uxue Gareca, captain of Mexico: "We are not satisfied with the tournament because I feel we could have given more. In the most decisive moments we lacked determination and concentration to finish our plays. We are still calm because we gave our best effort and we took a great learning."
Sergio González and Nivaldo Díaz, from Cuba, managed to straighten out a complicated encounter and based on a good block they won in an exciting final 23-21, 18-21, 15-13 to Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen, from Mexico, in the final of the men's beach volleyball of the XXIII Central American and Caribbean Games Barranquilla 2018.
It is the second consecutive title of González/Díaz, and Cuba's fourth gold medal in beach volleyball in the Central American and Caribbean Games, while Mexico is left with four silver medals.
Gonzalez/Diaz won the first set against a demanding Mexico, who in the second after being tied at 13, took advantage with two blocks of Virgin and two Ontiveros attacks, who also delighted the fans with two high-level defensive actions.
In the third set both teams maintained the parity to 3 points, but Cuba took control with blocks of Gonzalez and Diaz showing an impressive defense that raised the applause of the attendees.
Big defensive plays and some rallies adorned a great final at the Puerta de Oro Events Center.
Sergio Gonzalez pointed out that "this was the goal of this year and we got it, it was a demanding game, I failed in complex 1 (reception), but my partner at all times gave me encouragement, and that encouraged me."
Nivaldo said that "it really was a demanding game, we failed on both sides due to the pressure. We were confident of our ability and things went quite well. I think the audience enjoyed it, there were good rallies and a lot of intensity in the game. "
"We respect Mexico a lot, it's a great team, but we get the best out of us", added Nivaldo.
Johan Murray/Jorge Luis Manjarres, of Colombia, won the bronze medal by defeating 21-18, 21-19 the Venezuelan duo Carlos Rangel/José Gómez.
Encouraged by their fans, the Colombians took the initiative all the game, although Rangel/Gómez pressed in the block, they could not before the advantage that the locals took in the middle of the set.
1.- Cuba 2.- MEX 3.- COL 4.- VEN 5.- NCA 6.- CRC 7.-GUA 8.- TTO 9.- PUR 10.- SKN 11.- DOM 12.- CUR 13. - ESA 14.- BAR 15.- JAM 16.- SOUTH 17.- LCA 18.- HON 19.- DMA 20.- CAY 21.- HAI 22.- ISV.
Cubanas Deliz/Martínez win the gold of Barranquilla
The Cuban Mailen Deliz/Leila Martinez, won the gold medal of the beach volleyball women's tournament of the XXIII Central American and Caribbean Games Barranquilla 2018, after winning 21-8, 21-14 to Colombians Yuli Ayala/Diana Ríos.
Despite having the support of its fans that filled the Puerta de Oro Events Center, the Colombian duo failed to find the key to the Cuban game, who get their third gold medal, tied with Mexico as top monarchs.
For Martinez iit is his second golden medal, since he was crowned four years ago in Veracruz, Mexico. "We dedicate it to all the people who supported us and helped us prepare for these Games. I thank God for this medal, it was thanks a lot of sacrifice".
Díaz said that "this medal was missing from the Cuban delegation, it is for all our partner. It's special because we train for this, we give ourselves fully and here's the result. "
Norisbeth Agudo/Gabriela Brito, from Venezuela, won the bronze medal by beating 21-12, 21-9 to Puerto Rico, with Allanis Navas/María González.
Cuba qualified to semifinals after beating Costa Rica 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-21) at the Women’s NORCECA U20 Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Cuba joins United States and Dominican Republic in Friday’s semifinals, waiting for either Mexico or Puerto Rico. Costa Rica will face Guatemala in classification 5/8 round.
Cuban players lacked their usual energy, with a dull performance and struggling to move ahead in scores as they committed a variety of unforced errors the entire game. Costa Rica maintained their calm, executing their game plan well, surprising Cuba but still not taking unnecessary risks.
Cuba finished with a huge 40-27 margin in kills and 9-4 in blocks. Costa Rica held 7-6 advantage in aces. Cuba benefited scoring on 20 opponent errors while allowing 25.
Middle blockers Yamisleydis Viltres and Daima Del Rio led Cuba scoring 12 points apiece, wing spiker Ailama Cese added 10 points and setter Thalia Moreno chipped in with 9 points. Middle blocker Susan Alpizar scored 9 points for Costa Rica.
Middle blocker Daima Del Río of Cuba: “We lack attitude, yes we are happy because we are one step further in reaching our objective. We committed too many unforced errors and we really hope to do better tomorrow”.
Regla Torres head coach of Cuba: “I am not satisfied with today’s performance, I did not like it. My team and every Cuban team have better rhythm, a higher level, powerful and with better attitudes. My assistant Marta and I, as former players, can’t inject the girls the desire to execute everything we’ve prepared and practiced. We hope they will understand what’s needed. We are in semifinals but we must play differently”.
Andrés López head coach of Costa Rica: “I am glad despite our loss, but as a group, going back to my Federation, I reached my objective. Today my starters in every set were the tallest players and that helped us against Cuba’s strength over the net. I think that Cuba came in tired from their previous matches that were really tough and we worked them well with our strong serves. Central America doesn’t have this level, so when the match was really close, we miss 3 points, we recover, we even the score and our competitive level is not enough, neither physically nor mentally speaking, there’s nothing left to do. We don’t know how to solve. We could compete better if we had better preparation matches”.
Middle Blocker Susan Alpizar of Costa Rica: “This is our first experience, and playing against the best in the world excites us, we feel motivated because the result was good. I was pressured because I was afraid to commit errors, but our motivation was high and that helped the team, and our attitude was the best”.
The Cuban national team stopped the impetus of Trinidad and Tobago and won its second match 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-11) in the NORCECA Men’s Challengers Cup which grants the champion the confederation quota to the FIVB 2019 League of Nations qualifying World Final.
The initial set was characterized by a strong rivalry where the visitors arrived to point 16 tied with the home side, who strengthened their attack to close victorious and confirm their high level in this area also in the rest of the match.
In the following, the favorites to take the crown and the quota were clearly superior in all aspects and did not give liberties to the Trinidadians, who in the second set lost their only setter, Donald Kameron, hampered by an injury to the left ankle, and was replaced by wing spiker Daynte Stewart.
The top scorer was the opposite of Trinidad & Tobago Ryan Stewart who had 16 points in a day he took the team on his shoulders.
The Cubans, with an offense shared between regulars and substitutes, had in the opposite Miguel David Gutierrez the one who added the most with 9 points, followed by wing spiker Miguel Ángel López and middle blocker Javier Concepción each with 7 points.
Cuban technical director Nicolás Vives said that "we are in preparation to face the Puerto Ricans tomorrow and this was a transit match, at the same time we are working on some aspects like the tactical serve and others that we did not want to show, but we are ready to win against Puerto Rico, because it is one of our rivals in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla."
Their captain, center-back Liván Osoria, said "really in the first set they showed some resistance but we were catching our game little by little, we fulfilled the objectives and tomorrow we are coming for the victory against Puerto Rico. These two matches plus the preparation we have gone through and the experience of those of us who have played in foreign leagues, I think that gives us all the weapons and the drive to succeed."
Sean Morrison, head coach of Trinidad and Tobago, said: "It was a very good match, my team was excellent in the first set, we even made five attacks that separated us from the opponents, but we needed to be more consistent and compared to the rival today there is no doubt that there is a big gap, we have to work more at this level to continue improving, and I love playing against Cuba because of its level and because I feel it as a family."
His captain Ryan Stewart highlighted the performance of the hosts and said that "it was a good game and an excellent performance by our team, we have a lot of work to do, what we have to do is keep improving and keep pushing and pushing to try to win the match".
Cuba (2-0) will face Friday the undefeated Puerto Rico (3-0) starting at 18:30 local time, while the program opens at 15:30 with Guatemala against Costa Rica.