By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, July 12 – The Cuban Men’s Volleyball team was swept by Bulgaria (3-2, 3-0) over the weekend but still remains on top Pool C, with a points lead over Russia with one weekend of play remaining.
Bulgaria battled from behind on Saturday after losing the first two sets 25-13 and 25-23, taking the third and fourth 25-23 and 26-24 before winning the tie breaker 15-10. On Sunday, the Cubans were once again surprised losing in straight sets 25-22, 25-21 and 25-21.
Thanks to Japan earning a split with Russia, Cuba still has a good shot to win the group. On Saturday Japan, playing at home, surprised the heavily favored Russians three sets to one. On Friday the Russians had swept 3-0.
With one weekend of play remaining in the first round of league play, Cuba and Russia are both 6-4, Bulgaria 5-5 and Japan 3-7. Cuba which leads Russia on points and sets ratio, plays in Japan on July 17-18, while Bulgaria plays Russia.
In Pool A play over the weekend, the USA (7-3) and Italy (6-4) traded 3-1 set victories. The Netherlands (4-6) beat China (3-7) 3-2 on Saturday but fell 3-0 on Sunday. On the final weekend China plays Italy and the USA meets The Netherlands.
In Pool B, Serbia and France are both 6-4, Argentina is 5-5 and Korea 3-7. France swept Korea this weekend 3-0, 3-1 while Serbia and Argentina split with the Europeans winning 3-2 Saturday after losing 3-1 on Friday. On the final weekend of first round play Argentina plays France and Serbia faces Korea.
In Pool D, Brazil (8-1) continues unabated. After defeating Venezuela (1-8) 3-0 on Saturday the two teams meet again on Sunday. Finland is in second place with a 6-4 record after a 3-1, 3-0 weekend sweep of their series with Poland (4-6).
Who Qualifies for the Second Round
The top teams of each pool qualify for the second round as well as a wild card chosen by the World Volleyball Federation and the host country, for a total of six teams. The teams will play in two pools with the top two squads in each making it to the semi-finals.
Men’s World Volleyball League Site: http://www.fivb.org/EN/volleyball/competitions/WorldLeague/2009/?Tourn=WL2009