Yarleen Santiago (back) and Dariam Acevedo won five gold medals on this year's NORCECA Circuit
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, October 18, 2010 – Puerto Rico's Yarleen Santiago and Dariam Acevedo capped off a successful year by claiming the women's gold medal in the Bicentennial Beach Volleyball Cup, the tenth and final stage of the NORCECA Circuit on Sunday.
It was the fifth victory of the season for the Puerto Ricans who also won the titles in the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Chiapas and San Diego. They finished on the podium in all nine tournaments they took part in, winning two silvers and two bronzes in addition.
The physical and mental strength of the Puerto Rico pair was evident in their decisive 2-0 (21-15, 21-19) victory against Heather Bansley and Elizabeth Maloney of Canada. In the semifinals, Santiago/Acevedo had defeated USA's Cayley Thurlby and Nancy McGiven 2-0 (21-14, 21-16).
Thurlby and McGiven later lost out in the bronze-medal match as Mexico's Martha Revuelta and Xitlali Herrera prevailed 2-0 (21-15, 21-18).
"We focused on defence and had solid block in the first set," said a tired yet smiling Acevedo after the final. "But in the second set, the Canadians came back and we started getting in trouble. Fortunately, we were able to score the points that gave us the victory."
The defeated Maloney said: "We had a lot of problems receiving and serving. We couldn't apply changes as quickly as we wanted to."
In the men's division, Cuba's Yoendri Kinderlan and Sergio Gonzalez defeated Mexico's Juan Virgen and Aldo Miramontes 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) to take home the gold medal. The Cubans played consistently well throughout the contest and the home pair were unable to handle their strong attacks and powerful serves.
Kinderlan/Gonzalez had won through to the decider after a long, 73-minute semifinal battle against Mexican brothers Ulises and Lombardo Ontiveros, whom they eventually overcame 2-1 (19-21, 31-29, 15-9). The Ontiveros made partial amends by beating USA's Marcin Jagoda and Michael Diehl 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) to claim the bronze medal.
The victorious Gonzalez said: "Our aggressive services gave us the advantage, allowing us to win the match in two sets."
The awards ceremony was led by Ivar Sisniega, director of sports and operations of Guadalajara 2011 Pan-American Games Organising Committee, who was accompanied by Miguel Beato, NORCECA delegate, Ismael Acosta, president of the Mexican Volleyball Federation, and Cesar Macias, director of sports development for the City of Puerto Vallarta.
Women's results on Sunday: Semifinals: CAN-1 d. MEX-1 (21-15, 21-12), PUR d. USA (21-14, 21-16). Bronze: MEX-1 d. USA (21-15, 21-18). Gold: PUR d. CAN-1 (21-15, 21-19).
Men's results on Sunday: Semifinals: MEX-1 d. USA-1 (21-9, 21-14), CUB d. MEX-2 (19-21, 31-29, 15-9). Bronze: MEX-2 d. USA-1 (21-13, 21-13). Gold: CUB d. MEX-1 (21-18, 21-18).