Angela Leyva celebrates a point during Peru's 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic
Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2016 - Peru has kept its dream of a long-awaited return to the Olympics alive with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 26-24) win over the Dominican Republic at the Olympic qualifier in Tokyo, a result which also makes the task for Dominica to get to Rio very tough.
On paper the Peru-Dominican Republic match looked very even, and in the opening set it played out that way.
It also quickly developed into a shoot-out between two 19-year-olds; Peru’s Angela Leyva and Dominica’s Brayelin Martinez.
Both players made strong starts, spiking and blocking, with Martinez taking the points in the opening set with her three blocks to go with her five attacking points.
But Peru led for most of the set. The match tightened at 15-15, but Peru always looked to be in control and took the opener 25-22.
The Dominican game fell apart in the second set. Libero Brenda Castillo continued to show her class, but the team began to rack up the errors, leaving coach Marcos Kwiek shaking his head on occasions.
For Peru 18-year-old Maguilaura Frias was making an impact in attack, while the experienced Carla Rueda was providing the team with a steady hand.
Peru took the second set 25-16 to leave Dominica staring down the barrel at a second straight defeat.
Dominica finally found their groove early in the third set, but could not shake the Peruvians. At 12-15 down the Dominicans looked to be out of the match, but they then strung together eight of the next nine points to take a 20-16 lead.
But Peru showed their fighting qualities, inspired by a Leyva spike and block in consecutive points on the way to winning six of the next eight points.
With so much hanging on the final points of the set the drama unfolded. Dominica’s star player, Martinez, was injured and had to leave the court with Peru holding match point, and then Peru unsuccessfully challenged a Dominican spike that went in to level the scores again at 24-all.
The tension was palpable, but Peru were not to be denied, taking the final set 26-24 and keeping the hopes of Rio alive after their opening night loss to hosts Japan.
Dominica now has two losses from two games, and still has matches against all the pre-event favourites to come.