Dominican Republic

Getty Images

U.S. women’s volleyball team ends year with surprise loss to Dominican Republic

Leave a comment

The Dominican Republic surprised the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the final of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) women’s continental championship Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning the first two sets and regrouping after a U.S. rally to win the fifth set.

The final score of the back-and-forth match: 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9. The U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in three previous finals: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Dominican Republic won a semifinal matchup on its way to the 2009 title.

In group play, the U.S. team had beaten the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The U.S. also breezed past Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in group play and swept past Canada in the semifinals.

The loss doesn’t affect Olympic qualification. The U.S. women had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning a qualification tournament in August in Bossier City, La.

MORE: U.S. women rally to qualify

Semifinalists Canada and Puerto Rico qualified for a last-chance Olympic qualifier that the Dominican Republic will host in January. Mexico defeated Cuba in the NORCECA fifth-place game to be the last of the four teams vying for one spot.

The Dominican Republic has had some success in women’s volleyball, finishing fifth in the 2014 world championships and reaching the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals before falling to the U.S. The team also won this year’s Pan Am Games, to which the U.S. did not send its top players. Currently, the team is ranked 10th in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in two tournament finals — the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup. The U.S. also won a matchup in the World Cup last month, but the Dominican Republic won another five-set match in the Nations League preliminary round in Italy.

The U.S. finishes the year with a 44-7 record in tournament play, including a first-place finish in the Nations League and second place in the World Cup.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

 

 

Felix Sanchez, two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champ, retires

Felix Sanchez
Getty Images
1 Comment

Felix Sanchez, the Dominican Republic’s greatest Olympian of all time, announced his retirement Tuesday.

Sanchez captured Olympic 400m hurdles titles in 2004 and 2012, the latter coming in upset fashion at the ripe age of 34 years old. He owns two of his nation’s three Olympic gold medals.

Sanchez declined after London 2012, finishing fifth at the 2013 World Championships and ranking 17th in the world in 2014 and outside the top 100 in 2015.

In 2004, Sanchez memorably won gold while wearing a wristband given to athletes at the 2000 Olympic Closing Ceremony, a reminder of his failure to make the final in Sydney.

In 2012, Sanchez pulled out a photo from underneath his race bib after winning the 400m hurdles final. It was an image of him and his late grandmother, which he placed on the track and kissed.

MORE: Video: Nike Greece ad uses vacated Athens 2004 Olympic venues

Canada-Venezuela, Argentina-Mexico for Olympic men’s basketball spots

Andrew Wiggins
AP
Leave a comment

Canada can clinch its first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2000 on Friday, while Argentina could qualify for its fourth straight Olympics.

Canada, led by NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, faces Venezuela in Mexico City in the FIBA Americas semifinals at 7 p.m. ET.

Argentina, which has played the U.S. in the last three Olympic semifinals, faces Mexico at 9:30 p.m.

The winners of both games will join the 2014 World champion U.S., Brazil, Australia and Nigeria in the Rio Olympic men’s basketball field that will eventually include 12 teams.

The losers will get another chance to make the Olympics at a global, last-chance qualifying tournament in July, one month before the Games.

Canada last played in the Olympics in 2000 with Steve Nash, who is now retired. It went 6-1 in preliminary play at FIBA Americas, beating Venezuela 82-62 last Thursday, and has several NBA players on its team, including Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett and Nik Stauskas.

Venezuela, with no NBA players on its roster, squeaked into the semifinals by going 3-4 in preliminary play. Its previous Olympic appearance came in 1992.

Argentina, the last team to beat the U.S. at the Olympics and the 2004 gold medalist, went 6-1 in preliminary play despite not having stalwart Manu Ginobili, who has said he is likely done playing in international competition. Its team is led by 2004 Olympic champions Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni.

Mexico, which hasn’t qualified for an Olympic basketball tournament since 1976, also went 6-1 and has one NBA player on its team, Milwaukee Bucks backup point guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Mexico beat Argentina 95-83 on Wednesday night, setting up Friday’s rematch.

Puerto Rico, which also beat the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics, finished fifth at FIBA Americas and also advanced to the global, last-chance qualifying tournament.

The Dominican Republic, which played in three winner-goes-to-London games in 2012 Olympic qualifying and lost them all, finished sixth and will not advance automatically to the last-chance tournament, though there are wild-card spots available. Atlanta Hawks All-Star and Dominican Al Horford skipped FIBA Americas.

MORE BASKETBALL: Five Olympic questions with Steve Nash