Mexico City, Mexico, June 5, 2016- Tunisia prevailed over Mexico 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 20-18) at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament, but the home team captured the the last spot available for the Olympic Games.
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Mexico obtained just the necessary score to finish on top over Chile, winning the Olympic berth in front of a cheering crowd that celebrated with mariachi music at Gimnasio Olimpico Juan de la Barrera.
In numbers, Tunisia and Mexico showed even stats. In blocks and serves they equally scored 13 and 5 points respectively. In spikes, Mexico held advantage 68-61, Tunisia scored on 33 Mexican errors and limited their own to 28.
Tunisian Hichem Kaabi was the best scorer of the match with 29 points, on 26 attacks and 3 blocks. Miladi Ben contributed with 19 points, while Ahmed Kadhi added 10 points. Mexico was led by several double figured scorers, Daniel Vargas topped with 23 points, followed by Carlos Guerra scored 17, Samuel Cordova 15 points, Jorge Vargas and Tomas Aguilera 11 apiece.
The first set wasn’t easy for either one; both teams had difficulties getting into good rhythm. Tunisia blocked any intentions from the home team spikers, but Mexico’s persistency gave them an 11-9 point lead thru Daniel Vargas piped attacks. Miladi Ben led Tunisia’s spikers as the scores were tight with Mexico leading 18-16. Tunisian Hichem Kaabi was also contributing to keep his team in action, as the match kept really close and Mexico on top. Finally with a 25-23 score, Mexico pocketed set one.
Ahmed Kadhi and Khaled Ben blocked Mexico’s spikers as Tunisia jumped to an early lead 6-2 in the second set. Carlos Guerra had a rough time getting into his best rhythm; he scored consecutive points on spikes and aces to put Mexico on top 9-8. The actions went on with numerous mistakes on both sides and no one really managed to dominate with score tied repeatedly. With Jorge Barajas, Mexico moved away with a three point lead 20-17. Tunisia benefited from Mexico’s errors and turned the score around 23-21. Tunisia won the second set 25-23.
Mexican Pedro Vargas kills and Pedro Rangels’ clever sets, Mexico took the third set lead 10-7. On Tunisia’s side of the court, Ahmed Kadhi and Miladi went on insisting to reach 12 all. From there forward it was a repeat of the previous set, the score always close, both sides with continuous errors and no clear dominant with powerful shots and spectacular defence. Tunisia finished on top 25-23 with Mexican Carlos Guerra failing to serve.
Tunisia started off set four with power-shots taking the lead 5-3 while Mexico failed in defence. The pressure was definitely striking Mexico’s spikers. It was up to the second technical time-out that the home team managed to be on top 16-13 with unforced spiking errors by Tunisia and a shot by Vargas. Tomas Aguilera’s blocks were effective enough keeping Mexico on track and Cordova’s attacks pushed Mexico forward 25-19. The match was to be decided in a tie-break.
In the final fifth set, Hichem Kaabi with Miladi Ben continued their quest on taking Mexico down. However, Daniel Vargas, Samuel Cordova and Jorge Barajas were on fire for the home team. The score again remained tied through the final points. Tunisia beat Mexico in a long tie-breaker by 20-18.