By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 29 — Cuba plays its first match in the Women’s World Volleyball Championships Friday against Croatia in Matsumoto, Japan. The highly popular “Morenas del Caribe” will be closely followed by fans back home.
The 24 teams are divided into four groups for round one play. Cuba is in Group C with the United States, Germany, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Croatia.
After a round robin with each team playing five matches, the top four teams of each group will qualify for the second round.
Cuba plays Germany on Saturday, Kazakhstan on Sunday, Thailand on Tuesday and closes with the USA on Wednesday.
The FIVB official website profiles the Cuban team:
“The 2010 edition of the FIVB Women’s World Championship finds Cuba with only a few players remaining from the previous Olympic cycle and ready to use the event as a launching pad towards the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“Fresh from outstanding performances at this year’s China International Tournament, Montreux Volley Masters and Pan American Cup where they booked a return ticket to the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix, Cuba’s goal is to finish among the top eight teams in Japan.
“Cuba’s glory days were in the 90s when the women’s team became world champions in 1994 and 1998 – in addition to Olympic Games titles in 1992, 1996 and 2000 – at the same time their men’s counterparts were also finishing on the podium.
“At the World Championship in 2002 and 2006 Cuba finished fifth and seventh. Now, under the tutelage of new coach Juan Carlos Gala and with the wise advice of legendary players such as Eugenio George and Regla Torres, their goal is to improve on their 2006 seventh- place finish.”
The Cuban roster includes: Wilma Salas Rosell; Yanelis Santos Allegne; Yoana Palacios Mendoza; Daymara Lescay Cajigal; Lisbet Arredondo Reyes; Rachel Sanchez Perez; Ana Lidia Cleger Abel; Leanny Castañeda Simon; Rosanna Giel Ramos; Kenia Carcaces Opon; Yusidey Silie Frometa; Gyselle de la Caridad Silva Franco. The team captian is Yusidey.