Cubans qualify to main draw in Cancún

CANCÚN, México, April 17, 2021 - Lidiannis ‘Lidy’ Echeverria and Yanisleidis Sanchez were handed arguably the toughest draw in the women’s qualifier of the first of three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 4-star events in Cancun, Mexico.


The Cubans, however, powered through the obstacles and qualified for the main draw of the first international tournament they play. Both 25, Lidy and Sanchez started against Zoe Verge-Depre and Esmee Bobner, who had advanced from the qualifier at the 4-star event in Doha. The Caribbean’s were dominant and secured a 2-0 (21-18, 21-13) victory against the Swiss.


In their second match, the 12th-seeded Lidy and Sanchez faced fourth-seeded Marleen van Iersel, a two-time Olympian, and Pleun Ypma, from the Netherlands. It was a hard-fought battle, but the Cubans were on the right side of it, winning 2-1 (18-21, 24-22, 16-14) to qualify.


“We knew it would be a very difficult match,” said Lidy, who finished ninth at the 2017 FIVB World Championship with former partner Leila Martinez. “They’re very well-positioned in the world ranking and we had watched their film. I believe they didn’t have as much information about us and we tried to use it as an advantage. We played with everything we had and approached it like a real battle.”


The Cubans have very limited international experience with Lidy appearing in just the third World Tour event of her career and Sanchez making her international debut in Cancun. The pair secured three silver medals on the NORCECA Tour in 2019 but are still looking for their breakthrough moment at the top level.


In Cancun, they will have the opportunity to do that.


“When we heard about these events closer to home, we knew it would be a great opportunity for us,” added Sanchez, who played the second and third sets of the match against the Dutch with a foot injury. “I had never played in an event of this level and we had very few entry points, so the most important thing for us was qualifying and we’re very happy that we managed to do that.”


Cuba managed to have another team qualify for the main draw as Lidy’s former partner Leila and her current teammate Maylen Deliz also won a pair of matches to move from the qualifier to the main draw.


The Cubans upset Canadians Julie Gordon and Shanice Marcelle 2-0 (21-19, 21-7) in their first match and followed that up with another two-set (21-10, 21-15) win against Norwegians Emilie Olimstad and Ane Tveit Hjortland.


Besides the Cubans, the following teams have also advanced to the main draw: Brazil’s Taina Bigi/Victoria Lopes, Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti/Penny Karagkouni, Japan’s Yurika Sakaguchi/Chiyo Sukuki, Spain's Maria Carro/Paula Soria, the Czech Republic's Michala Kvapilova/Michaela Kubickova and Germany's Kim Behrens/Sandra Ittlinger.