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Gala hopes for top-six finish for Cuba

Cuba coach Juan Carlos Gala has adopted the more commonly used 5-1 playing system for the World Championship

Matsumoto, Japan, October 28, 2010 – Cuba's priority during the summer was to secure a return to the FIVB World Grand Prix and they achieved that goal with a fourth-place finish at the Pan American Cup.

Now Juan Carlos Gala's team have switched their focus to a new goal at the FIVB Women’s World Championship which begins on Friday in Japan: a top-six finish.

The team arrived in Matsumoto, their base for the first round, following preparation matches and training camps in the Netherlands and Italy, and Gala spoke on Wednesday night to confirm his expectations for the 24-team competition.

"Our goal is to be among the top six teams in this World Championship and the team have been working very hard to achieve that objective," Gala said.

After many years of success using the 4-2 playing system (four hitters and two setters) the Cubans have adopted the more common 5-1 formation used by all the high-level teams. "We will have Yusidey Silie as the setter of our team while Yanelis Santos now is switching to the role of opposite," Gala added.

The wing-spikers will be Kenia Carcaces, the MVP at this year's Montreux Volley Masters, and one of Yoanna Palacios and Wilma Salas. Middle blockers will be Rachel Santos and Rosanna Giel with Lisbet Arredondo as the libero.

Despite the change of system, the new Cuban breed presents the same characteristics as their successful predecessors: powerful service and attacks to go with impressive natural athleticism.

The team overwhelmed Canada in the first two matches of a friendly series last month before losing the last game in five sets as Gala opted to give playing time to his fringe players. The Cubans then travelled to the Netherlands to face a strong Dutch side and recorded a 1-3 win-loss record with three of the contests going to five sets.

Before flying to Japan, Cuba – No.6 in the FIVB rankings – established a training base in Italy where they faced a number of club teams in unofficial matches.

During the FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010, Gala will be assisted by Eider George and former great Regla Torres. The team manager is the legendary Eugenio George.

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