F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 18.03.2003

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Cuba Women Team has a long way to go

MEXICALI, Baja California.- Cuba won the Women Centennial of Mexicali Cup but they still have a long road to take before making the Athens Olympics next year. This was the opinion of both Cuban coach Luis Felipe Calderon and star player Yumilka Ruiz, in a published story by La Cronica of Mexicali in today's edition. "We are taking step by step but it is a long road to Athens," said Ruiz. "Here we accomplished our two objectives: watching our players and winning the tournament." "Our next step this year is the Cup of the Nations in Switzerland and then the Pan American Games," said Ruiz. "We only have three holdovers from the team that won the gold medal in Sydney 2000," said Calderón, "so we will have to work very hard to qualify for the 2004 Games and get there with good competitive level." "The teams that we are going to face are of first quality so it is necessary a lot of desire in order to stay within the world elite," he said. Cuban Francisco Cruz, coach of a Dominican Republic who eliminated USA in the semi-finals, said that he entered the event with a team of limited experience. "Three of our regular starters are in Spain and couldn't make the trip," he said. "And we came to Mexicali with five rookies." Kevin Hambly, the USA coach, said: "We prepared a team that consisted only of college players without international experience. I can't say now that they are going to make the squad for the Olympics, because they are too young and need a lot of training, but I can't discard them either." Their only claim to fame for the young USA team was a victory over Cuba in a come from behind match in the regular series. "It was really a surprise, we were very lucky," said Hambly. "Any team can beat any other on a given day. Cuba just had a bad day combined with a good one for our team, and also the breaks went for us." Sergio Hernandez, the Mexican coach, said: "Everyone likes to win but this was also a preparation tournament for the Pan American Cup, the Pan Am Games, Norceca Tournament and the Pre-Olympic. All our players come from the junior ranks with an age average of 18 but we are very high on them."


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