November 13, 2003, Osaka, Japan - World Champions Italy were handed a straight sets defeat at the hands of a desperate Cuba side in the Namihaya Dome in Osaka while Korea beat the Dominican Republic by the same margin in the Osaka Prefectural Gym in the opening matches of round four of the 2003 Women’s World Cup in Japan on Thursday.
Italy, who were second on the World Cup standings with only one defeat prior to their match against Cuba, came up against an inspired Cuban side who forced Italy into many mistakes in the 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 defeat.
Cuban captain Yumilka Ruiz was joined by Yaima Ortiz and Zoila Barros in leading Cuba to a superb win, their sixth of the tournament from nine matches and one, which keeps the Caribbean team in contention for a top three finish, which will gain qualification for the 2004 Olympics, having started the match in sixth place on the tournament standings.
Italy grabbed an early 8-5 first set lead but a timeout from Cuban coach Luis Calderon saw his side make a six point run to grab a 13-9 lead, one, which they never relinquished as they stormed home to take the set.
The second set saw more of Cuba’s great fighting qualities with some excellent rallies pleasing the enthusiastic crowd before Italian captain Manuela Leggeri came on in the third set to add stability to the European side however Cuba, on the back of some sublime touches from Zoila Barros, still wrapped up the third set and the match.
Meanwhile, Korea had an easier time beating the Dominican Republic 25-20, 25-21, 25-16 to now stand at three wins and six defeats for the tournament. The Dominican Republic now have eight defeats.