Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 2, 2020 – Bethania De La Cruz has a long and storied career with the Dominican Republic national team, but the 32-year-old outside hitter strongly believes the best is yet to come.
A member of the Dominican national team since 2005, De La Cruz has helped the Caribbean nation secure impressive results at the international level over the last 15 years, including a fifth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, gold at the 2019 Pan-American Games and multiple victories at NORCECA Championships and the Pan-American Cup.
The veteran outside hitter is excited about the team and confident they can reach even higher levels at next year's Tokyo Olympics.
“I think that over the last few years we showed the world how much we’ve improved,” she said in an interview with Brazilian journalist Bruno Voloch on his Instagram account
. “We have played really well against the top teams in the world and even when we didn’t get to win the match our performance had a lot of positives. We’re going to Tokyo with the goal of fighting for a medal, that’s our dream. It’s been delayed, but is more alive than ever.”
A key factor in the Dominican team's transformation, De La Cruz says, has been Brazilian Marcos Kwiek, who took over as head coach in 2008. Since then, the outside hitter believes, the Dominicans have shown steady progress.
“I think anyone can tell the impact he had in our team, it’s very noticeable,” she said about the Brazilian. “I think the main thing he brought to us was the understanding that we needed to cut our mistakes in order to be competitive.”
De La Cruz has, undoubtedly, been an important part in the recent Dominican success as well. The powerful spiker, who has played professionally in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, Tukey, Italy, Indonesia and Russia, has helped the team with her impressive scoring potential, winning Most Valuable Player awards at both the 2019 Pan-American Games and the 2020 NORCECA Olympic qualifier.
Alongside fellow outside hitter Prisilla Rivera, opposite Brayelin Martinez, libero Brenda Castillo and setter Niverka Marte she forms the backbone of the reigning NORCECA champions’ formation.
De La Cruz (18) is a centrepiece in the Dominican national team
De La Cruz has been one of the symbols of arguably the greatest generation of Dominican players and she thinks their mission with the team won’t be over after the Tokyo Games. And, more importantly, that even when they do decide to walk away, the team will remain in good hands with players like the Martinez sisters and Yonkaira Peña able to step up to new responsibilities.
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