SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, July 1, 2023.- Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico in semifinals in a five-set thriller 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11) on Saturday to battle for the Men’s Volleyball Gold Medal Match of the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games against Cuba
Dominican Republic has reached the CAC Games title match in other three occasions (1962, 1986, 2014) winning it only once, at the 2014 Veracruz Games in Mexico when they beat Puerto Rico.
Dominican Republic will battle Cuba, who earlier won their semifinal to the representatives of Centro Caribe Sports -Guatemala-.
Puerto Rico started off strong and controlled the actions in the first set but missed two set points before reaching 25-21. Dominican Republic turned it around, winning the next two battled sets. In the fourth, Puerto Rico trailed up to an even 21 to play a tie-break which had to be delayed for over an hour due roof leak. Dominicans stormed past Puerto Rico after reaching an even 9 where team captain Henry Tapia scored the final point on a kill.
Outside hitter Wilfrido Hernández was Dominican Republic’s top scorer with 19 kill points. Team captain, opposite Henry Tapia and outside hitter Hector Cruz both scored 17 points.
Puerto Rico’s team captain, outside hitter Pedro Molina scored a match-high of 22 points on 17 kills, three aces and one block. Other three players also finished with double-digits, outside hitter Pelegrin Vargas (17), middles Pedro Nieves (14) and Jonathan Rodriguez (11).
Henry Tapia, Captain of Dominican Republic: “I can’t express enough the joy I feel, we are concluding a difficult task. Being on court isn’t easy, there are moments when the opponents’ coordination changes our game structure, and you must make quick decisions. We lost the fourth set and we thought we were defeated; we were well coordinated to come back and win the fifth set. As of this moment we already have a medal on our neck, with my necklaces”.
Alexander Gutierrez, Head Coach of Dominican Republic: “Since the Final Four in Mexico we were focused on the Central American Games and today we are reaching the finals. Things have been planned, systemized, in order but above all patiently. The Dominican men’s volleyball is growing, we have many young players that need to mature, take decisions during the game, but this is the way. We have secured a medal”.