MEXICALI, Baja California.- The United States came from two sets down and edged Cuba in five thrilling sets during the second day of the Women Mexicali Centenal Cup to go 2-0 up in the tournament after defeating Mexico on the opening day.
Cuba made a solid start snatching the first two sets 25-20 and 25-22 with help from young Nancy Carrillo, Yaima Ortiz, Indira Mestre and Rossi Calderon, along with two times Olympian Martha Sanchez.
But the Americans then set a wall of defence using Elsabeth Bachman, Dana Burkholder and Tracy Stallsto curb the Cuban firepower.
The USA offense was led by Paige Benjamin with strong spikes while libero Sarah Drury and Audie Hauschild and Eryn Bird overcame the poisoned Cuban serves.
Cuban coach Luis Felipe Calderon used his ace Yumilca Ruiz from the third set on, but it was too little to late and the Americans took the final three sets 26-24, 26-24 and 15-9.
American coach Kevin Hambly worked his young team well to fend off the always dangerous Cubans. Robyn Johnson, the USA assistant coach, said: "We brought here a well balanced junior squad…. The plan is to rotate the players in order to get all of them the needed international experience."