FM WU18 DOMvsTHA (33)

The Dominican Republic and Argentina have secured their spots in the top ten of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Durango, Mexico, but the two teams will try to climb a step higher when they meet in the ninth-place match on Wednesday, the last day of the tournament.

Dominicans and Argentineans enjoyed a second-straight positive night at the Auditorio del Pueblo on Tuesday, when they defeated Thailand 3-1 and Slovakia 3-2, respectively. The Asians and the Europeans will play each other for the 11th place also on Wednesday.

The Dominicans were off to a great start against Thailand and remained focused after a third-set loss to finish the match in four. The Caribbeans were better in each skill, prevailing in kills (47-39), blocks (13-7), aces (9-8) and opponent errors (30-27), besides having a surprising edge in digs (108-92) too.

Alondra Tapia was one of the key names in the Dominican victory as the 1.93m-tall middle blocker used her height advantage to produce a match-high 22 kills (17 kills, four blocks, one ace). Left-handed opposite Ariana Rodriguez also came up big, delivering 17 points, some of them in the most pivotal moments of the match. Explosive outside hitter Ampha Sonsurat also had 17 points (13 kills, three blocks, one ace) for the Thai team.

“Thailand always play a very intelligent game and they fight for every point,” Tapia commented. “I’ve been playing in Japan for the last two years and I am more used to the Asian playing style, so I tried to help my teammates and give them as much information as I could. Playing against Thailand has taught me a lot and personally it was very satisfying to win this match. Finishing in the top ten means a lot for us, it’s really an achievement and something that makes us proud. It’s our first World Championship and we’ll fight with all we have for the ninth place.”

Argentina got revenge over Slovakia four days after losing to the Europeans in pool play. The South Americans were on the right side of a five-set battle that secured them a place in the top ten of the tournament. Argentina won the main battles at the net, outscoring their opponents in kills (62-52) and blocks (18-7), which proved enough to overcome the European advantage in aces (9-3) and opponent errors (27-21).

Margaria delivered 16 points for Argentina

Margaria delivered 16 points for Argentina

Outside hitter Nicole Perez was Argentina’s main offensive piece, leading all scorers in the match with 22 points (18 kills, three blocks, one ace). Middle blocker Avril Garcia and outside hitter Milena Margaria also had tremendous performances, producing 17 and 16 points, respectively. Slovakia’s top scorer was captain and outside hitter Alexandra Fricova, with 16 points (14 kills, two blocks).

“Our attitude was the difference,” Margaria reacted. “We played as a team and we were always looking forward to the next point, no matter how the previous one ended and that makes a lot of difference. We lost to Slovakia just a few days ago and wanted to play them again so we could beat them and get revenge. Being in the top ten is special, but we’re going for more tomorrow. We’re going with everything against the Dominican Republic and let the better team win.”