Cuba and Mexico qualified for the Under-18 Girls’ Volleyball World Cup, as representatives of the North, Central American and Caribbean region, during the Pan American competition held in Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva. Meanwhile, the United States and the Dominican Republic had already qualified prior to the Cuban tournament.
The Dominican Republic and Argentina arrived to the competition, which saw the participation of 10 countries, with their places at the World Cup already secured after the former defeated the United States 3-2 in a similar event held in San Juan Puerto Rico, thus becoming the first team to qualify for the global competition. Meanwhile as hosts of the event taking place August 18-27, in the city of Rosario, Argentina was assured a place from the outset.
Teams in the South American region also had the opportunity to win a spot during the Pan American competition, an honor that went to Colombia’s under-18 team, which despite a shaky start on losing 3-1 to Cuba, continued to improve throughout the competition.
The squad managed to come back from their first defeat; advancing with ease to eventually defeat the hosts 3-0 in the final and win the gold medal.
Although the Dominican Republic and Argentina were dubbed as competition favorites, the first upset occurred in the semifinals when Colombia defeated the former team 3-2, in sets of 10-25, 22-25, 25-16, 28-26, 15-11, while Cuba did the same knocking Argentina out of the running for the final, also with a score of 3-2 (20-25, 27-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-11).
After that the stage was set for the battle for the gold between Colombia and Cuba, won by the former with relative ease in sets of 25-22, 25-18 and 25-19. Third place went to the Dominican Republic, who defeated Argentina 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23), while Mexico finished fifth after beating Chile (25-20, 25-14, 25-15); followed by Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Guatemala.
TOURNAMENT ALL STAR TEAM
With the conclusion of the Pan American Cup and the chance for teams from the North, Central America and the Caribbean to qualify for the World Cup in Argentina, the All Star team was composed as follows:
Most Valuable Player went to Colombia’s Valerin Carabalí, captain of the winning team.
Madeline Guillén, from the Dominican Republic, was Top Scorer with 94 points (81attacks, 8 blocks and 5 serves) as well as second best attacker, only superseded by Ailama Cesé from Cuba.
In defense, Valerin and Cuba’s Yamisleydis Viltres stood out, while Yanlis Feliz Sena from the Dominican Republic was the best opposite. Best server went to the host nation’s Elizabeth Vicet, while Mexico’s Joseline Landeros topped the list for best defender. Angie Velásquez from Colombia was best passer; Argetina’s Sofía Meinardi best receiver and Bárbara Rodríguez best libero.
WORLD CUP ROSTER ALMOST COMPLETE
Looking toward the Under-18 World Cup in Rosario, Argentina, 13 of the 20 places up for grabs have already been filled.
Qualifying teams from the Asian region include: Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand. Africa will be represented by Egypt; and South America by Brazil, Peru and Colombia; while the North, Central American and Caribbean region will be represented by the United States, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Cuba.
The International Volleyball Federation will also award further places during the European Under-18 Championship in Holland - currently being played - where the six teams which will complete the twenty to compete for the World Cup will be decided.