MANAGUA, Nicaragua, October 22, 2022.- Nicaragua won epic five-set battle (27-25, 22-25, 32-30, 17-25, 15-10) to Costa Rica in the closing match of day four at the XIX AFECAVOL Men’s U21 Central American Championship.
Neither one wanted to give in because the winners would be closer to a medal and Evans Solis, Denis Espinoza and setter Cristhoper Castillo carried Nicaragua to victory.
Nicaragua won the first set 27-25, delayed for over an hour due to weather conditions. Costa Rica was tougher in the second set, jumping to a five-set lead at mid-set.
The third set was a roller coaster, with set points for both sides, until Nicaragua’s serves helped finishing with the advantage. In the fourth, Costa Rica improved in blocking and spiking were unstoppable, mostly team captain Dowshel Smith.
Nicaragua’s 3 point lead reaching the first technical time-out (8-5) helped them close the fifth set and earning their first victory against one loss.
Nicaraguan Evans Solis scored 33 points, while Denis Espinoza contributed with 29, with Castillo coming off the bench moving pieces for his team. For Costa Rica, Dowshel Smith ended with 26 and Jenher Denis 13 as well as Johan Cerdas.
Nicaragua was better in attacks 70-55, in serves 10-2, while Costa Rica was superior in blocking 14-5; Nicaragua committed 28 errors, against 44 from their opponents.
Cristhoper Castillo, setter of Nicaragua: “I am excited, I came off the bench, did mi job, I contributed with blocks and mostly I followed my coaches’ insctructions. The game was difficult, but we won; I am in the junio team and Costa Rica beat us 3-0 and now we are even”.
Jorge Mena, coach of Nicaragua: “I always say that the winner is that who’s strategy is best, not the one who strikes harder. We made a change in the fifth set which Costa Rica missed, and it worked well. You can also win with the bench, Denis Espinoza was outstanding during todays’ practice, and I decided to put him as a starter, also the change in setter helped us well”.
On Sunday, Costa Rica faces Panama at 4:00 p.m. and Nicaragua plays Honduras at 6:00 p.m.