Brazil charge to straight-sets win against Cuba
Almaty, Kazakhstan, August 16, 2013 – Brazil looked strong and steady in their mission to charge into the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals, as they picked up a three-set win against Cuba 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-20), in their first Pool K match of the weekend.
This was the 24th time that Brazil and Cuba have played each other in the World Grand Prix.
While Brazil have won all but one of the matches this season (they lost their second match of the second weekend to Bulgaria), Cuba has lost all of their first seven matches this season. With their worst ever start to a World Grand Prix campaign, Cuba will not advance to the 2013 World Grand Prix Finals, which will take place in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 to September 1.
In Friday’s match against Cuba, Brazil quickly established their form and rhythm in the first set to take a commanding 8-3 lead at the first technical time out while Cuba struggled with their ball-handling and reception, mostly originating from their players’ communication lapses on the court. Cuba later became more aggressive in their offence, defying the commanding presence of the Brazilian blockers. However, Cuba managed to narrow the lead to 13-14 as Jennifer Yanet Alvarez Hernandez and 13-year-old Melissa Teresa Vargas Abreu worked hand-in-hand to provide the points. But Vargas Abreu made an error from the service line and the attack area, to give away the lead to Brazil, 16-13, by the second technical time out.
Once back on the court, Brazil raced to pick up a quick three points which prompted Cuba coach Jose Carlos Gala Rodriguez to call for a time-out in an attempt to mend the damage. But the Brazilians continued to score relentlessly with their captain Fabiana Claudino scoring back-to-back points, as she fired from the middle, scoring another quick point from the wing. Unable to keep the errors down, Cuba eventually lost out to Brazil in the first set, 25-16.
Blocking was a huge factor in the success of the Brazilians in the second set as they posted good defence at the net, while the Cubans barely had any. Guimaraes tirelessly scored for the Brazilians, varying her strokes from powerful spikes, to delicately dropped balls. Cuba managed to score several points but their defence on the floor and by the net was not enough to contain Brazil, who closed out the second set with a score of 25-11.
Setter Danielle Lins carried on her commendable orchestration of the Brazilian offence, enabling hitters Guimaraes and Rodrigues to soar and score from the flanks. Cuba, on the other hand, were held back, lacking consistency and steadiness of play. While they had brilliant moments in the form of attacks from Vargas Abreu, Palacio Mendoza and Orta Alena Rojas, the Cuban hitters were not as quick or steady enough to set up proper floor defence for the succeeding plays. Brazil eventually won the third set and the match with a score of 25-20.
Brazil’s Gabriela Braga Guimaraes stood out as the best scorer with a total of 10 points, followed by Fernanda Rodrigues with 9.
Brazil now get set to face the Netherlands on Saturday 11:00 GMT (15:00 local time) and hosts Kazakhstan on Sunday 14:00 GMT (18:00 local), in the hopes of making their 10th consecutive appearance in World Grand Prix history.
2013 World Grand Prix Tournament