SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, June 28, 2023.- Dominican Republic beat Mexico 3-1 (25-17, 29-31, 25-20, 18-25) to open the Men’s Volleyball tournament at the 2023 San Salvador Central American and Caribbean Games at the Sports Palace Carlos El Famoso Hernández.
Dominican Republic started off strong jumping to a four-point lead (4-0) that went on growing the entire first set. Mexico came back to take the second set but with difficulties while Dominican Republic reached set point on four different occasions until Mexico won by a thrilling 31-29. It was Dominican Republic who kept their rhythm to beat Mexico in four sets.
Dominicans scored on Mexico’s 41 unforced errors against 16. Blocking also made a difference with Dominicans leading 14-6, in addition to a 4-2 margin in aces. Mexico led in kills 62-45.
Dominican Hector Cruz emerged as the leading scorer in the match with 22 points. The outside hitter scored on 17 kills, 3 blocks and two aces. Other standout players were opposite hitter and team captain Henry Tapia with 16 points (15 kills, one block) and outside hitter Henry López with 14 points, including a match-high of five blocks.
Outside hitter Mauro Fuentes topped Mexico with 18 kill points, followed by opposite hitter Diego Gonzalez with 16 points (15 kills, one block) and outside hitter Josué López with 11 kills points as well.
Dominican Republic’s next match in pool A is against Suriname and Mexico goes against Cuba.
Henry López, outside hitter of Dominican Republic: “There were many emotions starting from the very first point. We have prepared hard, and we knew we could beat Mexico. We focused on blocking, and we kept our serves under control, that’s how we contained their leading players (López and González) far from the net”.
Alexander Gutiérrez, Head coach of Dominican Republic: “In this pool (the death pool) one match can make the difference to advance into the semifinals. For us this was an early semifinal match. Since the Final Four in Durango, I’ve been saying that our goals were the Central American Games, and today we capitalized what we did in Mexico, that gives us truth. The team kept their game level from start to finish, they didn’t lose concentration and that is really important because if you lose your head for an instant, you can lose the match”.
Mauro Fuentes, outside hitter of Mexico: “We failed to concentrate from the beginning, and we were too overconfident and in addition to that, Dominican Republic had a great performance”.
Jorge Azair, Head coach of Mexico: “We played badly, we didn’t attack, we didn’t score points from kills, and we must watch the video to analyze the game. Dominican Republic did their game, they didn’t make variations in what they usually do”.