Costa Rica beats Cuba with five-set comeback  for Fifth place at NORCECA U17

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, November 26, 2023. – Costa Rica defeated Cuba coming from a two-set deficit 3-2 (15-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 15-11) for the fifth place in the first NORCECA Girls’ Under-17 Championship at the Jorge Galeano Gymnasium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

This time, it was Costa Rica who recovered from a two-set deficit; in the preliminary round, the same happened, but the Caribbeans took the win. Both teams conclude the tournament with two wins and four losses.

Costa Rica led in service points (8-7) and scored 43 points from Cuba’s errors against 31. Cuba dominated in attacks (51-46) and blocks (11-4).

Nicole Leiva CRC

Costa Rica’s outside hitter Michelle Arias led with 15 points (14 kills, one ace). She was joined by Dayna Barrantes with 13 points (9 killss, 3 blocks, one ace) and Lilliam Vargas with 10 points (8 attacks, 2 aces).

Cuban outside hitter Salet Castillo Valdes was the top scorer of the match with 19 points (16 kills, one block, one ace). Middle blocker Lizt López contributed 17 points (13 kills, 4 blocks), and team captain Yesica Brito added 14 points (12 kills, 2 blocks).

Thanks to Cuba’s errors, combined with the effective attacks of Michelle Arias and Dayna Barrantes, Costa Rica comfortably won the third set and took control of the game from there onwards. In the fourth set, the score was tied numerous times, but Costa Rica forced the tie-break with an ace from Lilliam Vargas. Costa Rica started the fifth set with a powerful serve from team captain Nadia Granados, taking a 5-0 lead, and then scoring all over the place to reach a 9-1 advantage. Costa Rica grew stronger while Cuba appeared erratic. Costa Rica sealed the victory after losing a match point from Cuba’s captain, Yesica Brito.

Nadia Granados, captain of Costa Rica said, “Our attitude was really good, we recovered our confidence coming from losing two sets. It was a nice rematch”.

Docquier Umaña, Head coach of Costa Rica said “We had a worthy tournament, the girls battled hard, and they deserve all the merit. We are going back to Costa Rica with motivation to keep working”.