HAVANA TIMES, July 23 – Brazil defeated Cuba three sets to one (25-18, 25-23, 25-17, 25-19) in the second round of the Men’s World Volleyball League on Thursday.
The South Americans, 11-1 in the qualifying round with a highly improved attack and excellent blocking, were clearly a notch above their rivals.
The Cubans did manage to win the second set with a rally late in the game led by a serving ace from Joandry Leal, a key block by Wilfredo Leon, a clutch point by Roberlandy Simon and two successful attacks by Leal.
However, the final two sets were all Brazil, which perforated Cuba’s reception for numerous service aces.
Coach Orlando Samuels will have his work cut out to come up with a new game strategy if Cuba makes it to the finals against Brazil. But to get that far the islanders would first have to beat either Serbia or Russia.
Cuba concluded its Pool F second round play with a 1-1 record after defeating Argentina 3 sets to 1 on Wednesday. The top two teams in each of the two groups will move on to the semifinals on Saturday.
On Friday, Brazil is a big favorite in its match against Argentina. If the World Volleyball Federation’s top ranked team wins as expected, Cuba will qualify for the semifinals as the second place team. While Argentina is not mathematically eliminated its chances are considered slim.
In Pool E, Team USA, the defending World Volleyball League and Olympic Champions, was swept by Russia (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) in straight sets. After losing to Serbia the day before, Team USA was sent packing.
Russia and Serbia will now meet on Friday to see which team leads the Pool, possibly playing Cuba in the semifinals, while the other team would face Brazil.