SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, June 29, 2023.- Cuba is undefeated after their 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-18) win over Dominican Republic in the Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the 2023 San Salvador Central American Games being played at the Sports Palace Carlos El Famoso Hernandez.
With a combination of its regular players and subs, Cuba recovered from falling in the first set to earn their second victory in Pool A; Dominican Republic now has a 1-1 mark.
Dominican Republic took Cuba by surprise reaching a six-point lead (18-12) in the first set up to an even 21; Rafael Burgos-Guntin and Juan De Jesus ended the set blocking Miguel Angel Lopez. Middle blocker Jose Masso alongside opposite Jesus Herrera and team captain Osniel Mergarejo, were consistent in set two as Cuba evened the score with a strong resistance by the Dominicans captain Henry Tapia and Hector Cruz. Sets three and four were similar but with Cuba giving its subs a time on court in the fourth and final set.
Cuba held advantages in kills (57-49) and in blocks (8-6), Dominicans led 3-2 in points from serves.
Both teams committed 30 unforced errors.
Three Cuban players finished with double digits, opposite Jesus Herrera with 17 points (15 kills, two blocks), middle blocker José Masso with 14 points (10 kills, four blocks) and outside hitter Osniel Mergarejo with 11 points (10 kills, one ace). Herrera and Mergarejo didn’t perform in the fourth set.
Dominican captain Henry Tapia was the match leading scorer with 23 points on 21 kills and two blocks. Outside hitter Hector Curz added 15 points (14 kills and one ace).
On the last day of the preliminary round, Cuba (2-0) plays Mexico (1-1) and Dominican Republic (1-1) faces Suriname (0-2).
Yonder García, Libero of Cuba: “I came from the VNL with a small injury, but I am ready to support my team. We lost the first set because we weren’t focused, we came back in the second and we won the match, it was our goal. Tomorrow against Mexico will be a similar match like today, with a lot of energy, but we must start focused and I am sure it will be a great match”.
Wilfrido Hernández, Outside hitter of Dominican Republic: “I think our serve and our performance over the net were more consistent in the first set, and Cuba didn’t use all their force; we were more aggressive than Cuba. We close the pool-play of the preliminary round against Suriname, and we must win from the beginning, we can’t be overconfident”.