Panama Defeats Guatemala to Place Third at Worlds Qualifier

Aug. 17, 2009, 10:16 p.m. (ET)

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

IRVINE, Calif. (Aug. 17, 2009) – Panama defeated Guatemala 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-11) to take third place at the 2010 World Championship Qualifier at the Bren Center on the campus of UC Irvine.

With the victory, Panama finishes the tournament 1-2 and has a chance to advance to the final world championship qualifier next week in Guadalajara, Mexico. Guatemala finishes 0-3.

Panama’s Jose Cunningham led all scorers with 14 kills on 12 kills, one block and one ace. Domingo Avila added 12 points on 12 kills. Carlos Zuniga scored 11 points on five kills, a match-high five blocks and one ace. Ricardo Brown totaled eight points on eight kills.

Jeyson Flores led Guatemala with 15 points on a match-high 14 kills and one ace. Oscar Garcia added six points on six kills.

Panama out-blocked Guatemala 8-3 and scored on five aces as opposed to one for Guatemala. Panama completed 46 of 78 kill attempts with 10 errors. Guatemala completed 31 of 81 kill attempts with eight errors.

The first set was close throughout as Guatemala held an 8-7 advantage at the first technical timeout (TTO). Panama had two kills from Donald Urena and one from Domingo Avila. Guatemala scored on kills by Jeyson Flores and Julio Recinos. Panama was leading 12-11 when it was called for a net violation that tied the score and gave the serve to Guatemala’s Juan Mendez. Guatemala scored on two Panama hitting errors to go ahead 14-12 before Panama ended the run with Urena’s kill. Guatemala continued to lead by two at the second TTO, 16-14. However Panama’s Urena single-handedly tied the score at 16s with a kill and an ace. The two teams battled back and forth until the score was tied 22-22. Panama’s Richard Araba gave his team the lead with a kill and then used an ace to reach set point. Panama won the set on a double block by Urena and Carlos Zuniga. Panama’s Avila and Guatemala’s Flores each finished with six points on six kills in the set.

The second set stayed close until the score was tied 6-6. Panama took the 8-6 lead at the first TTO on two Guatemala errors. A Guatemala block made it 8-7, but Panama scored two straight points on kills by Araba and Zuniga to take a 10-7 lead. Panama led 16-12 at the second TTO. Coming out of the break, Cunningham took the serve and helped Panama score three straight points, including an ace, to lead 19-13. Panama reached set point first at 24-18. Guatemala scored one more point on a Panama error before Araba ended the set by tooling the block.

Panama rode its momentum to a 9-0 lead in the first set, getting two kills each from Avila and Reynaldo Brown and a kill and block from Zuniga. Guatemala finally scored its first points when Panama’s Eduardo Guerra served into the net. A Guatemala net violation made it 10-1 before Guatemala scored again on a Leonardo kill. Panama held a 16-5 lead at the second TTO and went on to win the set 25-11.