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Mexico Holds Off Cuba in Five

Sept. 17, 2013, 11:06 p.m. (ET)

OMAHA, Nebraska, September 17, 2013 – Mexico ended the second day of the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship by holding off a surging Cuba 25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 18-16 on Tuesday at Ralston Arena.

Andrea Rangel sparked Mexico with 28 points, while teammate Lizbeth Sainz chipped in 20 points. Melissa Vargas, the youngest player in the tournament at a month shy of her 14th birthday, led Cuba with 19 points, while captain Daymara Lescay added 16 points and Caridad Matienzo Sulian tallied 15 points. The two teams are the youngest by average age among the nine-team tournament. Cuba’s average age is 19.7, while Mexico’s team averages 21.1 years old.

Cuba battled from two sets down and trailing in the third set 17-13 before picking up momentum to win the next two sets to force a tiebreaker. Cuba held two match points in the fifth set, but Mexico held off both chances and captured the match on its second match-point opportunity. Mexico held slim margins in all three scoring categories of kills (64-61), blocks (10-7) and aces (6-4).

Cuba, playing its first match in the three-team Pool B, ends the preliminary phase against host and world’s No. 2 United States (1-0, 5 points) on Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT. Mexico finishes Pool B with a 1-1 record and three points.

Mexico Coach Claudio Torres: “In the first two sets we were more aggressive with our serves. Once we started to be more comfortable with our serve, (Cuba) was able to step up their game and attack more. So our serving was the main difference between those four sets. I think Mexico played with a lot of heart. They fought for every point. It’s been many years since we beat Cuba so it was a great win for us.“

Mexico Captain Dulce Carranza: “It was a hard-fought battle. The match had a lot of ups and downs. The key to the victory was the adjustments we had to make because we got too comfortable in the middle so we had to make the adjustments in order to pull out the win. It started with the service and the blocking also helped to get the victory.”

Cuba Captain Daymara Lescay: “We started the match well but then we got too comfortable and that’s what led to our loss. It had nothing to do with being tired. We just got too comfortable.”

Cuba Coach Juan C. Rodriguez: “There were a couple of our star players that did not perform at a high enough level. They had to be placed on the bench. There were times that our main passer was not able to start off points well for us. It did not help us that she was not playing at her top level. Tomorrow we have to play even better against the United States because they are a top team.”

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