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2016 Review: Dominican Republic lead joyful celebrations

 
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 14, 2016 - The Dominican Republic players received congratulations from their country's President Danilo Medina as they triggered a wave of euphoria with their victory in FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2.

And there were more tears of joy from hosts Bulgaria at the Final Round in Plovdiv, despite the hosts finishing fourth and last. Before their final match, captain Eva Yaneva and libero Mariya Filipova were honoured for their careers with the national team. And after the match, Emiliya Nikolova was called onto the court to receive a marriage proposal in an emotional moment for everyone at the competition hall. And she said “Yes.”



Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic President demonstrated just how important the sport is for his people. “Thanks for providing new joy to the Dominican people who follow with interest the performances of the team," said Mr Medina in a letter of congratulation. "I want to salute and congratulate each one of the players, on behalf of the government and personally, for their outstanding effort obtaining seven consecutive victories in the competition,” he said.
 
President Medina also congratulated Brayelin Martinez for her stand-out performances as the top scorer in the Dominican team. After losing their first match in five sets to Bulgaria, the Dominican side went on to win seven matches in a row against Argentina, Kenya, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico and Poland.



The Dominican Republic fought back from 0-2 down against Poland to win the last match of the Final Four 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-11) and complete their return to Group 1 and the best teams in the world. The journey home was a triumphant one for the team.

Their success was some consolation for missing out on qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio. The Dominican Republic, who finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, could do no better than sixth place at the all-important qualifying tournament in Japan, meaning they missed out on their ticket to Brazil.

However, success returned to the team in the FIVB World Grand Prix. They first progressed to the Final Four, before defeating Caribbean rivals Puerto Rico 3-1 in the semifinal - Puerto Rico had qualified for the Summer Games and were the only team to win all six matches in the preliminary round. They then overcame the rejuvenated Poles in the final.

“I want to congratulate all the girls. They did a lot of work and we are very happy now. It was actually teamwork. Everybody pulled their weight. It is also very important that there are two Caribbean countries on the podium, which is a great achievement for the region in world volleyball,” said Brazilian coach Marcos Kwiek. His top performers Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez (24 points) and Bethania De La Cruz (19 points) were instrumental in securing victory in the final.

Their success came despite Group 2 top scorer Berenika Tomsia adding 29 points to her total. Poland's leading scorer Tomsia was on target throughout the final weekend in Group 2, scoring 25 points in her team's 3-1 victory over Bulgaria in the semifinals. Those performances helped Tomsia to a total of 167 points, making her by far the top scorer. Puerto Rico defeated Bulgaria 3-1 to take bronze. Canada and newcomers Kenya were the only countries of the eight teams in Group 2 to remain winless in all six Preliminary Round matches.



Both teams, however, will play in Group 2 of the FIVB World Grand Prix again in 2017 – together with Germany, who were relegated from Group 1, Argentina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Korea, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico and 2016 Group 3 winners Croatia. The Group 2 Preliminary Round will be played over three weekends in four-team pools, with the top 3 of the combined standings plus the hosts of the Finals making it to the Final four.

The Czech Republic will host the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2 Finals in 2017 - with the three cities of Brno, Liberec and Ostrava in contention to organise the event. The Group 2 Finals will feature four teams, including the event hosts, competing from July 28 to 30. FIVB President Dr. Ary Graça S. F° said: “I look forward to a great event when the Czech Republic welcomes the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2 Finals in July.” It is bound to be another emotion-packed event.





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