Matsumoto, Japan, October 30, 2010 – Germany made it two wins out of two in Group C of the FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship on Saturday, beating Cuba 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-23) at Matsumoto City Gymnasium.
Giovanni Guidetti's team followed up Friday's straight-sets victory over Kazakhstan by getting the better of a Cuba side eager to make amends for their surprise opening-day defeat by Croatia.
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Margareta Kozuch made the difference for Germany with 15 points, including two blocks and two aces, while Corina Sshuske had three blocks among her 12 points and Maren Brinker contributed 10 tallies.
Juan Carlos Gala's Cuba had come out firing after the upset of losing to a Croatia team ranked 39 places below them – and soon led 8-5 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). Kenia Carcaces – who would score a match-high 17 points, with youngster Yoana Palacios adding 12 – and Yanelis Santos led the charge, and with the resurgent Cubans 12-6 ahead in the first set Germany coach Guidetti called a timeout, his side having dropped four straight points.
The ploy stopped the rot: Rachel Sanchez planted her next serve into the net and Corina Ssuschke blocked superbly from the big-hitting Carcaces. After Santos drove wide, the gap was down to three points. More importantly, Cuba were doubting themselves again.
Santos raised morale with a cracking spike and a block on Maren Brinker as Cuba moved into a 16-12 lead at the Second Technical Timeout (STT). But the Germans were persistent, and the pressure on Cuba never let up. A Saskia Hippe spike levelled matters at 20-20 and, after a terrific set by Ssuschke, a bomb by the same player took them ahead. Then it got really interesting: Hippe's block on Santos put Germany three points up; Carcaces' spikes restored parity at 23-23. Cuba saved one set point, yet were unable to return a massive smack from Margareta Kozuch at 25-24. One-nil to Germany.
Carcaces fought hard to keep her team in contention early in the second set, but Kozuch and Heike Beier responded for Germany, who were three points in front at the FTT. When that advantage stretched to six points, coach Gala called a timeout, which had an immediate effect as Cuba won the next four points, forcing Guidetti to bring his players off court.
Germany had a five-point cushion at the STT and a seven-point streak then put them 10 points up at 23-13, with Cuba looking deflated. After a sharp spike by captain Christiane Fürst brought a German set point at 24-15, a defensive mix-up from the Cubans made it 2-0.
Palacios helped Cuba into an early lead in the fourth set, yet Kozuch replied with some big hits and, with Ssuschke making a crucial block on Palacios, Germany were two points clear at the FTT. They maintained the pressure with their efficient volleyball and the Cubans – somewhat less efficient – struggled to keep up. Brinker started landing hefty blows as the Germans extended their advantage. However, Gala's charges improved their blocking and that helped narrow the gap to two points at 18-16 and to one point at 19-18 – before they were level at 21-21. Two errors, though, gave Germany a two-point advantage, which a crashing drive from Carcaces reduced to one. But a miss by Palacios then handed Germany two match points. Palacios responded with her hardest hit of the night, only for Ssuschke to have the final say with a line drive that sealed Germany's victory