Dominican Republic Opens Qualifier by Sweeping Panama

Aug. 16, 2009, 5:05 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

IRVINE, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2009) - The 2010 World Championship Qualifier for NORCECA Pool F opened Saturday with the Dominican Republic sweeping Panama, 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) at the Bren Center in Irvine, Calif. 

Dominican Republic will play Guatemala at 5 p.m. local time on Sunday while Panama will face the United States at 7:30 p.m.

"We focused on making the least number of mistakes," said Dominican captain Victor Batista. "We wanted to play well and do what we need to do. 

The Dominican Republic's Elvis Contreras led all scorers with 12 points on a match-high 12 kills. The Dominican's Jose Caceras added 10 points on nine kills and one ace. Eduardo Concepcion and Johan Lopez each scored eight points. Concepcion had a match-high two aces and six kills while Lopez had a match-high two blocks and six kills.

Panama was led by Domingo Avila and Ricardo Brown, who each had six points on six kills.

The teams were tied at 5-5 in the first set when Dominican Republic scored four straight points behind the serving of Eduardo Concepcion, who had an ace in the run. The DR maintained a four-point lead and held a 16-12 advantage at the second technical timeout (TTO).  Coming out of the timeout, Concepcion served for three more straight points, including a block by Francisco Lopez and Johan Santos, to give DR the 19-13 lead.  Panama scored twice on Richard Araba's kill and a Dominican error to make it 19-15. But the Dominican Republic answered with four straight points, including an ace, behind Francisco Lopez and put the set out of reach for Panama. Contreras, Concepcion and Lopez each finished the set with three points for the Dominican Republic. Araba and Diaz each scored three for Panama.

The two teams stayed close to open the second set with Panama holding an 8-7 lead at the first TTO. Coming out of the timeout, Gomez used a kill to get the serve for the Dominican, which scored four straight points behind the serving of Concepcion, who had an ace in the run. Later, with the Dominican leading 11-9, it scored three straight points on Mejia's serving to gain the 14-9 advantage. The Dominican continued to lead 16-12 at the second TTO and extended that to 22-15. Panama couldn't rally and DR won the set 25-20. Contreras, Caceras and Batista scored four points each for DR. Cunningham led Panama with three points.

Panama got off to a fast start in the third set as the Dominican substituted several starters to help the team gain experience. Panama held an 8-6 lead at the first TTO on kills by Brown and Richard Araba and a variety of Dominican errors. Panama was leading 14-10 when Caceres got the serve and helped bring DR back to 13-14. Panama led 16-14 at the second TTO but the Dominican tied it at 18-18 on a block by Caceres and Lopez.  With the score still tied at 22-22, DR took the lead on a block by Jose Castro and Concepcion after a long rally. The Dominican reached match points on a Caceres kill and won the match on a tip.