Havana, Cuba, March 27, 2017 – Eight coaches are ready with their respective squads to play for three tickets to the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship to be held in Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina from August 18 to 27, while qualified sides from the Dominican Republic and Argentina will fine-tune their preparations at the age-group Pan American Cup that begins on Tuesday.
The Control Committee chaired by NORCECA president Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, performed the preliminary inquiries of the ten teams registered and chaired the technical meeting where it was confirmed that the competition grants tickets to Argentina to the two top ranked NORCECA teams and one ticket to the top placed side from South America.
The coaches were interviewed during the process of the preliminary inquiries and posed together at the conclusion of the evening meeting.
Five female referees to officiate at the U18 Girls' Pan Am Cup in Cuba
Eduardo Guillaume (Chile): “I am very glad because these cups offer another chance to compete. Our preparation was very good, with double sessions for the past seven weeks during the summer vacations of the girls. In Argentina we played one match against a university team and another against the youth team. We also come from Peru where we had four matches against their national U18 team already qualified to the worlds. Our dream is to win a berth.”
Antonio Rizola (Colombia): “Very glad to be in Cuba for the fifth time with their great volleyball tradition and the good work they put on. After 28 years working in my country (Brazil) I have been in Colombia for the last two months with the goal of qualifying to the worlds, which will be a first ever even though we have a lot of respect for the teams of Chile and Uruguay, also battling for the spot.”
Andres Lopez (Costa Rica): “The important thing is the growth of the players. We took part in the previous cup two years ago, buy they did not have the experience they have today. The six top players of that time are here and this group won the U18 and U20 Central American Tournaments. We are looking to battle in every match but being realistic about the superiority of the other teams within our Confederation. But we will keep a strong rhythm and level because this is the same team that will compete in the U20 in July.”
Juan Carlos Cruz (Cuba): “I am confident about our qualification to the world championship as we did it in 2015 despite the strength of Puerto Rico and Mexico. I hope we can win our pool where Colombia, fourth in South America, is the strongest team. We have only two players with international experience but we have trained hard to assemble a competitive team. They have played only intra-squad matches and against our U20 team.”
Edgar Callejas (Guatemala): “To be here is like visiting the volleyball cathedral in the Americas so it inspires to have a good tournament. Our goal is to test the girls thinking on the long term and to compete the best possible way. We have two years of work, went to the NORCECA event in Puerto Rico last year and now we look forward to continue developing the team.”
NORCECA president Cristobal Marte Hoffiz speaks to team managers and coaches
Ricardo de Jesús Naranjo (México): “We were not able to qualify in 2016 at the NORCECA in Puerto Rico after finishing in third place but the team is motivated to do it here. Despite out lack of size, my girls rely on technique and a good fundamental game that I think will make up for the physical difference. From the group that took part in the worlds in Peru 2015 the only player repeating is the captain Mirelez Valdez.”
Julio Meléndez (Puerto Rico): “We are a new group of coaches working with young talents and several of the girls who played the NORCECA 2016 in our country where our team lost the bronze to Mexico. This is a fiery team with a lot of desire, something very important in this renovation. The team is focused on winning one of the two spots to the world championship.”
Luis Baladón (Uruguay): “We have been working since 2011 and 70 percent of the team is well prepared with three experiences at the South American events. So we are here with aspiration of a berth to the worlds, relying on more confidence and a fast game with good serve and hopefully with good passing. The key match is against Mexico to start, but everything depends on the crossed matches.”
The Sports Palace at Ciudad Deportiva in Havana is the official venue
Estanislao Vachino (Argentina): “We are hosting the world championship and is a big responsibility for us to play well and to grow every day. It has been a long time since we had a female event there. We have a new group with only two players repeating from the last cup but we played the complete Senior League for three months and want to transfer that experience against opponents of the same age. It is always a tough event, with several matches and rivals from the American continent. We plan to play a match at a time to see if we can reach the finals, if we retain the crown would be much better.”
Alexander Ceccato (Dominican Republic): “We intent to win all the matches and the cup, but the most important thing is continue our practice. We have not played since we beat the United States in Puerto Rico at the NORCECA U18 in Puerto Rico. My duty is that the girls do well out there. They are playing faster and we want to practice some other things. From the team we carried to the 2015 worlds we have three of them here and the other one is recovering from an injury. Our goal is to improve from last time performance when we finished in the 17th position.”