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Carcaces foils Italy as Cuba win thriller

Cuba won 17 points with blocks in their five-set defeat of Italy

Nagoya, Japan, November 10, 2010 – Cuba outlasted Italy in five sets (16-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-23, 24-22) in a thrilling finale to second-round Pool F play at the FIVB Women's World Championship at Nippon Gaishi Hall on Wednesday night.

Kenia Carcaces stole the show for Cuba, carrying her team to victory in a dramatic final set. She scored 10 points in the tie-breaker and finished the match with 34 points, all but three of them with attacks. Rachel Sanchez added 20 points including five blocks and two aces while Rosanna Giel totalled 16 points, with seven blocks.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

The fourth-ranked Italians needed victory for a chance to make the top four but spurned match points in the tie-breaker and instead must settle for a spot in the 5-8 semifinals. Francesca Piccinini and Serena Ortolani anchored their offence with 24 and 23 points respectively. This was the 25th meeting between the countries and Cuba now hold an 18-7 lead.

Italy held a 16-11 lead at the Second Technical Timeout (STT) in the first set, then went 21-14 ahead through a nice option-play spike by Valentina Arrighetti. It was no surprise when they finished off the set 25-16 on a soaring spike by Piccinini, who had already totalled nine points.

The second set was more closely contested. With the teams tied 13-13, Italy gained a two-point lead before Cuba restored parity with a spike and block by Ana Lidia Cleger. Italy, with some excellent tactical serving, were giving Cuba a defensive headache and when Yoana Palacios served into the net, the Europeans stood two points from the set at 23-20. Italy were rebuffed on two set-points, however, and Cuba turned the tables to take the set 26-24 when a spike went long.

Carcaces delivered a powerful spike to pull Cuba up 9-8 in the third set, but later misplaced another as Italy gained the advantage at 12-9. However, Cuba then scored five straight points to take a 14-9 lead. Italy responded and went ahead 19-18 on a nifty tip by Eleonora Lo Bianco and Massimo Barbolini's team went on to take the set 25-21 on a nice block by Piccinini.

The fourth set was tight all the way, as both sides pressed to gain the upper hand. Cuba led 13-10, before another spike by Piccinini and a bad serve cut it to 13-12. At the STT Juan Carlos Gala's charges were 16-14 in front and they would have been farther ahead if not for some poor serves. Italy were trying hard to finish off the Cubans, tying the score when Palacios smashed the ball into the net while attempting a spike. However, it was Cuba who claimed the set through an ace by Sanchez.

A spike by Sanchez evened the score at 6-6 in the deciding set. Arrighetti served an ace to make it 9-9 and another Piccinini spike made it 13-11 to Italy before Carcaces responded with a vicious blast of her own. Italy failed to convert their first match point at 14-13 and by now Cuba were feeding Carcaces at almost every point. Although Ortolani's spike made it 15-14, Cuba levelled again and then took a 17-16 edge only to see Italy respond. Back and forth it went until Cuba finally seized victory on a quick spike by Giel.

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