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Nizetich spiking in an overcrowded Lomas de Zamora stadium

Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 10, 2014 - Argentina completed their best season ever at the FIVB World Grand Prix with their third straight win (all at home in a perfect weekend) and the fourth one overall, after defeating Cuba 3-1 (25-21, 25-15, 28-30, 25-22) finishing fifth – just one point behind Poland – that qualified among the best teams for the Four Final Round of Pool 2.

Once again, Emilce Sosa was the main player for Argentina, as she hammered 20 points leading all the scorers. Teammates Tanya Acosta and Lucia Fresco followed her with 17 points apiece, while Melissa Vargas shone for Cuba, completing 18 tallies.

Argentina rushed to 7-2 supported by Fresco, and even though coach Gala Rodriguez called for a Cuban timeout, Florencia Busquets pulled out a solid block and Yamila Nizetich fired an ace to stretch the lead (9-2). Sulian Matienzo also served well and her side reduced the distance to 10-5, but Argentina did well in the offense and held off Cuba to 16-11. After the break, Cuba got closer again with Matienzo (16-14) and Argentina lost their momentum. Matienzo placed Cuba ahead at 18-17, but Argentina recovered to 23-20 with two stuff blocks from Tanya Acosta and a spike by Micaela Fabiani. An unforced error by Cuba closed the set at 25-21.

Cuba recovered in the second set with Vargas doing massive damage from the service line, to 8-4, but the Caribbean side slowed down and Argentina improved in serving and blocking to climb back. After an 11-10 on the board, Sosa underlined the difference with a block at 16-12. Fresco reappeared on the offensive department and also piled up a couple of aces, first at 23-15 and a final service point for the 25-15.

As in the previous set, it was Cuba the one who stepped ahead first, mainly due to local unforced errors, to 8-7. The score remained close, but Argentina got on top with Sosa always there, to 16-15. The local “Panteras” improved until the end, with a nice save by Fresco that turned into a point and two counterattacks from the same opposite, to widen the gap (21-16). However, Vargas unfolded an amazing spike and Cuba regained some hope at 23-19, Daymara Lescay served an ace and Alena Orta blocked to create an electrifying ending (24-24). Matienzo and Acosta exchanged spikes to a local 27-26, but Gretell Moreno grabbed the serve and wrapped up the set with an ace at 30-28.

Pumped up with confidence, Cuba advanced to 8-3 in the fourth chapter, unbeatable in blocking and defence. Vargas led with her spikes and Lescay blocked Sosa en-route to a solid 15-8 advantage, but Argentina started to claw their way back into the game.

Sosa had her rematch with a block to reduce the difference (15-11) and, a while later, Julieta Lazcano also blocked and Josefina Fernandez served well to reach an 18-point tie. Cuba lost their pulse and fell behind to 22-20, Sosa chipped in with two more points and Fernandez sealed the set by 25-22.

Press Conference:

Sulian Matienzo, Cuba captain: "This has been a great volleyball game. We fought point by point to get a win, I think that was clear on how the match went on. I want to congratulate Argentina for earning a victory in the end."

Yamila Nizetich, Argentina captain: "As yesterday, I believe our best feature today was the team itself. We are 15 players ready to play and that is a very good sign for Argentinean volleyball. I'm ecstatic for these three wins, it's a historical moment for us. Simply thanks to everybody who chipped in to accomplish this dream we had."

Juan Carlos Gala Rodriguez, Cuba coach: "We came out to this match thinking we couldn't win. Argentina worked well from the serve and that also made things easier for them in blocking, and we were unable to fix this from the reception. I congratulate Argentina and I know we will meet again."

Guillermo Orduna, Argentina coach: "To me, it was a great pleasure this entire weekend. This was something we owed to ourselves, to play in front of our people. I'm also very satisfied with how the team grew along the weekend. We had a tough rival tonight and Argentina was able to overcome some situations and set the rhythm of the game."

On the first match of the last date of the Preliminary Round, after two defeats in Lomas de Zamora, Canada regrouped and finished 2014 World Grand Prix with a 3-0 win (25-21, 25-20, 25-22) over Peru.

It’s the second win for Canada this season and the first one in straight sets, after having beaten Argentina 3-2 in Belgium. For this victory, the red team combined the guns of Kyla Richey (14), Shanice Marcelle (13) and Rebecca Pavan (10), while Peru had in Carla Rueda their best scorer, with 12 tallies.

Peru achieved a quick 3-0 lead, but Rebecca Pavan leveled the game almost immediately and a nice smash from Lucille Charuk enabled an 8-7 on the board for Canada. Pavan and Jennifer Lundquist provided two blocks and their side improved to 15-11, and even though Peru replied with Karla Ortiz in good shape, the red squad progressed to 16-14. Canada defended their way to 19-15 and Lundquist enhanced to 22-18 with an ace. The distance remained until the 25-21 materialised by a Pavan block.

Canada kept rolling in the second set, to an 8-4 opener, but Ortiz nailed a block in a point of remarkable Peruvian defence and her side placed at range (10-9). However, an ace by Kyla Richey and the good offensive job by Shanice Marcelle restored the distance for Canada, at 16-11. Peru struggled once again, headed by Carla Rueda and Maguilaura Frías, and got closer by 17-16, but Canada achieved the side-out and regained control to 20-17. A long serve by Peru gave the North Americans a handful of set ball, but they only needed one to seal the set, by 25-20 after a block by Charuk.

Trying to achieve a comeback, Peru walked towards a 7-4 lead in the third set, but Canada rapidly reacted and the first TTO was levelled (8-7). Even though Canada gave away some points due to errors, they blocked well and that allowed them to stay ahead to 13-12. Richey and Marcelle shared the responsibility to keep their side in control (19-14), but Canada again lost focus and Ortiz levelled the score by 19-19. Arnd Ludwig called for a timeout, Peru failed from the serve right after and that was it for them. Canadian captain Page added an ace and, although Peru answered the same way through Rueda, Marcelle smashed the 25-22.

At the end of the match the great World Grand Prix party in Argentina showed Canada players returning the support of the fans signing autographs and making pictures with the Argentine audience.

Press Conference:

Angela Leyva, Peru captain: “There’s not much to say. They played better than us and even though our team did well for some moments, it wasn’t enough. As for me, I don’t know what happened, but we know we have to keep working to progress.”

Brittany Page, Canada captain: “This was a very important match for us to win. We know Peru is a very fighting team; they battle every ball so we had to maintain our hard work all along the game. I would like to thank Argentina not only for hosting this Grand Prix weekend but also for the amazing crowd they have.”

Natalia Malaga, Peru coach: “If we had played the way we did in the two previous matches, the outcome would have been different. Sadly we couldn’t handle the pressure they applied on us and weren’t able to come back. However, this is good for them to learn what they have to correct and keep working.”

Arnd Ludwig, Canada coach: “It was very important for us to fight back after the two previous games, so I’m proud for the way my team played. Our block was very good, that was our key to success. Our middle-blockers did very well reading the setter, they touched many balls in blocking and that was vital.”

World Grand Prix in Lomas: Statistics ARG-CUB | Photos FeVA - FIVB