Cuba’s men’s team celebrate their victory. Photo: Official Norceca website

Cuba’s men’s and women’s teams won gold during the first stop of the North, Central American and Caribbean (Norceca) Beach Volleyball Cup, which concluded April 9, in La Paz, Baja California, Mexico.
“We’re going through a lot of emotions. We came here to win the tournament and get the points we need to participate in this year’s World Cup,” stated Daisel Quesada, who alongside teammate Karell Peña secured 200 points toward their ranking.
It took the Cuban team 45 minutes to defeat the respectable duo Juan Virgen-Lombardo Ontiveros from Mexico in sets of 13-21, 21-17, 15-8. With their victory Quesada-Peña became the island’s second team to win the last two consecutive competitions held in La Paz.

Cuba’s women’s team triumphed in La Paz, Mexico. Photo: Official Norceca website

Throughout the competition the Cubans only lost one set (13-21, in the final against Mexico); dominating in the qualifying round where they won both games 2-0, as well as in the quarter and semi-finals, which saw them defeat Group A’s Jon Mesko-Skylar del Sol of the United States 2-0 in sets of 21-13, 21-11.
Meanwhile Mexico’s other team, composed of José Rubio-Josue Gaxiola, defeated Mesko-Del Sol, 21-18, 17-21, 15-8, to take the bronze.
“Before I left Cuba I promised my parents I would win for them…It was a hard fight…and I’m very happy,” stated Lidiannis Echevarría, member of Cuba’s winning women’s team, together with Leila Martínez.
Their victory is extra sweet after the duo defeated Canadians Heather Bansley-Brandie Wilkerson 2-1 (18-21, 24-22, 17-15) in both the qualifying round and the final, where they triumphed in sets of 21-19, 19-21, 15-13.
Echevarría-Martínez won both their preliminary games to advance past the qualifying stage with ease. In the quarter finals the Cubans defeated Swan Mendoza-Lolette Rodríguez of Nicaragua 2-0 (21-10, 21-11), and Betsi Flint-Kelley Larsen of the United States in the semi finals, also in straight sets: 21-17, 21-17. Meanwhile Betsi Flint-Kelley Larsen defeated Canada’s second team composed of Taylor Pishke-Kristina May 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) to take bronze.