Varna, Bulgaria, June 19, 2016 - The Dominican Republic won gold at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix 2016 Group 2 finals and earned a promotion to Group 1 for the 2017 season. Spearheaded by the attacks of Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez, the Caribbean squad achieved a fantastic comeback from two sets down to master a 3-2 (21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-11) victory over Poland in the final match played in Varna on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Martinez spiked successfully 24 times to become the main contributor to the Dominican triumph, but it was Poland’s Berenika Tomsia, who was the best scorer of the match with 28 points. Agnieszka Kakolewska was the best blocker of the game with 6 points from that element, but even this was not enough for Poland to get to the much desired victory.
With this win, the Dominican Republic have further tilted their positive World Grand Prix balance against Poland to seven victories in 12 matches.
The first set was very competitive and very even through the second technical time-out, after which Poland stepped up their efforts in offence to gain a three-point advantage. The Dominicans reacted only so much as to stay close behind, but could not recover enough to catch up. Berenika Tomsia opened up her account with seven attacking points, but it was Kamila Ganszczyk’s tremendous block that finished the set at 25-21.
Three aces helped Poland break away with a 9-5 lead in the second set. The Dominican Republic improved in offence and blocking and a one-woman block by Bethania De La Cruz restored the balance at 16-16. Another kill block, this time by Annerys Victoria Vargas Valdez, gave the Dominicans the edge at 20-19. In the money time, however, it was Poland’s powerful spikes from zone 2, first from substitute Malwina Smarzek, then from Berenika Tomsia, that proved decisive for the 25-23 win.
An ace by Lisvel Elisa Eve-Castillo gave the Dominican Republic a one-point advantage before the first mandatory break. After 12-12 Poland made three attacking errors in a row to give the opponents a 15-12 advantage. Two consecutive aces by Niverka Dharlenis Marte extended the Dominican Republic’s lead to 22-15, after which it was only a matter of time for the Caribbean squad to close the set at 25-18.
The Dominicans rode on the momentum into the fourth set and, hitting far more efficiently than their opponents, shot up to a 10-4 lead. The Poles fought back and narrowed the deficit down to only two points, but were struggling to completely catch up. In the conclusive moments Martinez hammered away towards the tie-breaker and Eve-Castillo stamped it with a kill block for 25-20.
The fifth set turned into a spiking contest between Tomsia and Yonkaira Paola Pena Isabel. After a 10-10 tie, a blocking break-point gave the Dominican Republic the edge for 12-10. Martinez fired away twice for 14-10, before a serving error on Poland’s side stopped the clock at 15-11 and got the Dominican party started.