Short characterization: CUBA

I Team formation

·       CUB has played with the experienced regular formation during Athens 2004 which is also to be expected at the 2006 WC; young team as a whole, with average age of 22.8 years; body height of the players with best jumping power between 176 and 191 cm.

·       4 young players (born between 1984 and 1989) are newcomers in the team but apart from one setter (player No. 2 Santos) they did not play much.

·       Mixture of regular players and young talents forms the basis of the WC 2006 team and certainly for the future until 2008.

II General impression

·       The team continues to play with the 6:2-system (2 attacking setters). Current developments have been taken up by the introduction of one libero and also the integration of back row attack; basic tendency continues to be oriented towards power volleyball (powerful  jump, power and straight attack from all positions).

·       With player No. 12 Calderon a first-class attacker is developing (incredible high touch, even higher than Russian’s Gamova); development of this possibly untouchable outside hitter might strongly characterize Cuba’s play for this quadrennial.

·       Even though they ended up with 4th place (level on points with ITA/CHN), it was a good tournament for Cuba because a competitive team with potential of development and a new exceptional player has presented itself for the Olympic cycle until 2008.

III Team composition and characteristic of play

·       Two setter system; particular  strength in the play at the net; getting fast on first tempo and power attack from outside positions and selectively from back court.

·       Extremely physical team (Best blocker and spiker in the individual and in the team ran-king); high FBSO Kill % team (First Ball Side Out); less strong in the defence skills (defence, reception).

·       Emotional but work hard at crucial time. 

IV Technical impression

Complex I

Passing:

·       4 player reception pattern (very unique among top teams); flexible 4-player basic formation with 2 main passing players (situationally fluent transitions to 3-player and 2-player formations willingness of middle blockers to receive „short balls“); all players are able to pass precisely and safely enough (only 5% errors).

·       Libero plays for the outside hitter, player No.12; realization of the function distinctly less clearly defined than in the other teams.

Setting:

·       CUB is the only one team that has being using two setters for many years; Use of one experienced setter (28 years); two young players (born in 1983 und 1986) still need time for development and playing experience.

·       Good use of first tempo behind setter both in FBSO (first ball side out) and during the rally. Very fast powerful sets to P4 (with variants outside and a bit inside). Lack of location (accuracy) would be one of their shortcomings.   

Attacking side out:

·       Very aggressive offence with jumping ability

·       Being able to attack all three front row positions at all rotations due to their 6-2 system.

·       Trying to use the Pipe (quick back row attack from the middle) by player No. 8 and player No. 3.

·       First tempo attack by the middle player around the setter after perfect pass). 

·       As a whole power volleyball with spectacular quick attacks and high attacks from P4 (outside, inside), completed by first tempo (mostly medium-high sets) through the tall middle blockers (high touching point, varied hits, mostly in front of setter) and quick attacks (low set/ one metre) by the net/ offensive setter at P2 (currently less efficient and can be better developed) as well as selectively integrated back row attacks.

Complex II

Serving:

·       Combination of a risky serve and a safe tactical serve.

·       Aggressive (risk) jump top (player No. 3, 8, 11, 18,).
However it seems that the services were a little more conservative than the last four years.

Blocking:

·       Not good penetration technique over the net; jumping for the block (jumping height) little adapted to the attack situation; in spite of technical shortcomings first in individual and in team ranking (reference to still unused potential).  

·       After quick change of position problems occur sometimes (no joint blocking action - timing, „platform”, quick and synchronous moving of hands toward the ball during quick attacks).

Digging:

·       CUB’s defensive system was mainly the socalled rotation defence for years (partly quite schematic). Now they are trying to integrate other systems at certain line-ups in order to adjust.

·       Rotation adjustment:  Particular attention is paid to strong and weak points in defence at each rotation (depending on the players at each position from P1 to 6) by the application of different systems at the particular rotations in order to solve specific problems at rotation.

·       Libero: very athletic and tall plays for outside attacker player No. 12; good performances in defence; mainly defence at special P5, but not exclusively.

Attacking transition:

·       Mostly power attack via P4 (action height, high set, main hitting direction diagonal); after precise defence or in free ball situations quick attacking transition (shoot P4, first tempo in the middle and selectively back row attack - also „pipe“).