Milan, Italy, October 1, 2010 - Cuba walked the victory trail once again after Thursday's burning disappointment against Serbia, beating Mexico in straight sets (25-17, 27-25, 25-15) in their second Pool H fixture in the second round of the FIVB Men's World Championship. Cuba's victory restores their hopes as they await Saturday's match between Serbia and a Mexico side who must win convincingly to advance to the next round. Cuba and Mexico have now played each other three times with Cuba winning every time in straight sets.
The block, which contributed 10 points, was the weapon of choice for Cuba while the percentage of attacks (59%) by Orlando Blackwood's team was impressive. Leal Hidalgo topped the scorers' chart with 16 points, including four aces, while the youngest player in the competition 17-year-old Wilfredo Leon added 13 points.
Cuba started off their second match of the second round with a decisive hit by Leal and were already leading 4-0 when captain Robertlandy Simon's efforts with impressive blocks stretched their lead, taking them seven ahead. The first point by Mexico followed thanks to captain Gerardo Contreras, who then closed the gap to three (11-8) with his dogged attacks. A diagonal spike out of bounds by Leon gave hope to Mexico, ranked 26th in the world, as Cuba, the world No8, led 16-9. Mexico's Jesus Rangel then claimed the first ace of the match but Cuba's block was too strong, allowing them to close out the set eight points ahead.
Mexico led for the first time in the match at 6-5 in the second set before extending that lead to 8-6 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). Leonardo Manzo, having just come onto the court, impressed with his spiking and another winning serve from Rangel kept Cuba at arm's length. Cuba coach Blackwood called a timeout as Mexico further extended their lead to 16-12. Yet Leal provided some inspiration with his spiking down the tramlines to draw Cuba level at 17-17 before two blocks by Yoandry Diaz and Leon allowed Blackwood's men to creep ahead at 23-21. Mexico held on for dear life, spoiling two set-points for Cuba and closing to 25-25 thanks to a block by Tomas Aguilera, but it was left to the Cuba skipper Simon to end the set on his side's fourth attempt.
Cuba sensed victory from the beginning of the third set, going quickly up at 7-2 with Leon putting in key attacks for his side, always with a smile. Rangel tried to spark a Mexico comeback as they trailed 8-3 at the FTT. By the Second Technical Timeout (STT) Cuba's score was double that of Mexico at 14-7. Jose Martell's serve on the ninth point launched a four-point streak allowing Mexico to close to 18-12 but a dip in concentration from Jorge Lopez's team and an ace from Osmany Camejo helped Cuba seal victory on the second match-point.