OMAHA, Nebraska, September 19, 2013 – Cuba won its first match of the 2013 Visit Omaha NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship by defeating St. Lucia 25-16, 25-15, 25-6 on Thursday afternoon at Ralston Arena.
Cuba, which has won the NORCECA Championship a record 13 times but has the youngest team in this year nine-team field, will play Costa Rica on Friday at 4 p.m. CT in the seventh-place match. St. Lucia, playing in its first-ever NORCECA Championship, concludes the tournament in ninth place.
Cuba was led by Melissa Vargas, the youngest player in the tournament who is one month shy of her 14th birthday. She scored 17 points and was matched by Alena Rojas’ 17 points. St. Lucia was paced by Dania Hamilton paced St. Lucia with five points.
Cuba’s net defense produced a 13-0 block advantage. The Cubans also enjoyed a 14-3 margin in aces and 34-16 edge in kills.
St. Lucia Captain Natalie Edward: “I will remember being exposed to such a high level of volleyball and seeing Olympic players play. We got a chance to see this higher level, so we can take that experience home and try to match it. I am glad we came. It was a good experience because I’ve never seen such a high level before.”
St. Lucia Coach Florian Combie: “It’s good to see (this level of) volleyball on television. But unless you set your foot in the fire you don’t really get a true sense of what to expect. So now we know what to expect. Hopefully that will translate to us working harder. I must say the people of Nebraska have been very nice and courteous to us.”
Cuba Captain Daymara Lescay: “In the first two sets we were not playing the way we were supposed to be playing. The serve receive was difficult for us and that affected the rest of our game. We just need to improve so we can win those first two sets easily.”
Cuba Coach Juan C. Rodriguez: “We are upset right now because the players are not respecting the history of Cuba volleyball. Although it is the ninth-place match, they are supposed to come out here with fire and ready to alienate the opponent. They are supposed to play that way every time and that is why I am upset with the victory.”