Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, March 6, 2020 – The Dominican Republic women’s national team is set to make its return to the Olympics this summer in Tokyo and the Caribbeans already have a plan for the event so that they return home with their best-ever finish.
Heading into their third Olympics, the Dominicans have a fifth-place finish in London 2012 as their best performance to date. The result obtained by that team, which included players who are still part of the current roster like outside hitters Bethania de la Cruz and Prisilla Rivera, middle blocker Lisvel Eve and star libero Brenda Castillo, is considered the starting point for the team in 2020.
“Our first and main goal is to advance to the quarterfinals,” head coach Marcos Kwiek said. “If we don’t make it, we’d consider it a failure. To be at the Olympics is already a massive accomplishment for us, but now we’re looking for the next step and I like our chances of making it out of our pool.”
Bethania de la Cruz will be a returning player from the Dominican London 2012 campaign
The Dominicans will be in Pool A in the Olympic tournament alongside Serbia, Brazil, Kenya, Korea and hosts Japan and with four of the six teams moving forward to the elimination round, their strategy to advance is very clear.
With reigning world champions Serbia and Brazil, who are ranked third in the world, most likely presenting tough challenges for the ninth-placed Caribbean team, their focus is on winning their other three pool matches so they don’t depend on a positive result against the Europeans or the South Americans, who will be their first two opponents in Tokyo.
In line with their strategy, the match-ups with Korea, on July 30, Kenya, on August 1, and Japan, on August 3, will have a pivotal impact on the team’s aspirations in the Japanese capital in a few months from now.
“In theory, our key matches should be Japan, Korea and Kenya,” Kwiek said. “We believe Serbia and Brazil are probably at a higher level as they’ve consistently finished among the best in the major tournaments and if nothing surprising happens, they should be number one and two in the pool. That means the four other teams would compete for the remaining two spots, so the matches against them will most likely decide our fate.”
If their results during the 2019 season are taken as an indication of how far the Dominicans can go in Tokyo, however, they could probably aim even higher. Over the course of the last international season, the team, which secured its Olympic spot by winning the NORCECA qualifier last January, defeated all of its pool opponents in Tokyo, as well as other top teams in the world like USA and Russia.
“Last year was a very positive one for us, but not only because of the results,” the coach added. “It was very important that we were solid and consistent throughout the entire season. Obviously the results validate the work we’ve been doing here but to reach that level of consistency means a lot. We want to keep that form in 2020 so we can go to Tokyo with high hopes.”