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The Dominican Republic women’s national team ended their participation in the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Sunday with a 3-2 victory against Germany. Even though they didn’t qualify for the semifinals, the Caribbeans are set to leave the Italian Adriatic Resort of Rimini in good spirits after their best-ever campaign in the tournament.

The Dominican Republic had a rough start in the 2021 VNL, winning just one of their first four matches, but quickly found their best rhythm and triumphed in eight of their next 11 games, ending the Preliminary Round in sixth place with nine wins and improving from their 14th place in 2018 and their eight place in 2019. The results also moved the team up in the FIVB world rankings, climbing from ninth to sixth place.

“It was great to end the tournament with another victory,” setter Niverka Marte said after the match against the Germans. “We had a little bit of a slow start in the VNL, but kept improving and reached a good level near the end. Unfortunately, we had some injured players but that created opportunities for other members of our squad to step up and take more responsibility and they did it. This is really important, especially with the Olympics coming up next.”

VNL Women's Highlights - Dominican Republic vs. Germany

Star libero Brenda Castillo was once against one of the Dominican standout players in the VNL as she ended the Preliminary Round as the tournament’s best defender with 250 digs and sixth in serve receiving with 115 successful actions. Middle blocker Jineiry Martinez also did well, ranking sixth in blocks with 33.

The Dominicans also appreciated the opportunity to reunite again for the first time since January 2020, when they secured their qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, and used the VNL to improve their level of play ahead of the Games.

“Our experience here was perfect,” Marte added. “The tournament was very well-organized. It was a different system this year and that was a little bit tiring for every team, but we really enjoyed the tournament, especially after not having played together for such a long time. It was beautiful and I hope to be back next year.”

Marte was the Dominican Republic's starting setter during the VNL

Marte was the Dominican Republic's starting setter during the VNL

The Dominicans now head back to Santo Domingo, where they will finalize their preparation for the Olympics and head coach Marcos Kwiek will select the 12-player roster that will make the trip to Japan in July.

The Caribbeans are in Pool A in the Olympics alongside Brazil, Japan, Kenya, Korea and Serbia and will debut against the Europeans, who are the reigning world champions, on July 25.