FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2014

Press release

Young Cuban team looking for progress under new coach

Rolando Cepeda is one of the few experienced players remaining in the Cuban team

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 31, 2014 – There was great relief when the Cuban volleyball players, who are no strangers to success, secured their ticket to the FIVB Men's World Championship for the 13th time in a row earlier this month.

The first step of the new start for the 2010 runners-up under new coach Rodolfo Sánchez was a success, even if the young team faltered slightly in one of the sets in their 3-1 (25-14, 26-28, 25-18, 25-12) victory over the Dominican Republic. A week earlier, in the Cuban capital Havana, the Cuban women's team qualified for the FIVB Women’s World Championship.

“Our team is young, but better in the physical, technical and tactical skills of the game than ever before,” said Sánchez. It was a brilliant start to a difficult task for the successful junior coach. 

Rodolfo Sánchez, who was an international in the 1990s, has taken over from the legendary Orlando Samuels Blackwood. He was forced to resign when Cuba won just one of its 10 preliminary matches in the FIVB World League. It was the worst ever performance in the country's history.

Sánchez has now turned almost exclusively to young players with potential. Last year’s top scorer, Astengo Yordan Bisset, has been left out of the squad, as have other international stars from the Caribbean island. Other world-famous names, such as Robertlandy Simon, Wilfredo Leon, Joandry Leal and Leonel Marshall, who play for top international clubs, are also missing from the socialist country's national team.

In an unusually candid interview with the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma at the start of the year, Ariel Sainz, President of the Cuban Volleyball Federation, admitted: “The major reason for the significant decline in our competitive results has been the disruptive campaign carried out by certain sectors in different countries, who, without showing any respect for the integrity of the Cuban federation, have bought Cuban players so that they abandon our national team.” 

As a result, wing-spiker Rolando Cepeda and middle blocker Isbel Mesa are the only players in the young team with World Championship experience. This means the team faces a hard task in the FIVB Men’s World Championship, which takes place from August 30 to September 21 in Poland, particularly with reigning champions Brazil, Germany, Korea, Finland and Tunisia waiting for them in the Preliminary Round. Cuba will contest the Finals as runners-up after losing 3-0 to Brazil in the final four years ago in Italy.

Silver was the fourth World Championship medal – after a silver and two bronzes – for Cuba's men's team. The main aim this time around is to develop the young team further rather than making it onto the podium. The powerful youngsters have huge potential, as ever, which they demonstrated in the qualifying tournament on their home turf in Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum. 

Rodolfo Sánchez was also satisfied: “The boys followed the tactical plan and reduced the errors. They played with courage, gave their best effort and showed a good attitude.” The experienced Rolando Cepeda was the highest-scoring of four Cubans in the final with double figures in the scoring charts, with a match high of 23 points. He was named MVP. 

“The team rose to the occasion in the difficult moments against a strong opponent,” Cepeda said after the final. “As we play more, we will make fewer errors and we are working on that.” 

The FIVB World League is the perfect opportunity to prepare. Cuba will take part for the 24th time in a row. Only record winners Brazil and Italy, who have contested every tournament to date, have made more appearances. 

Cuba are joined in Pool F by debutants Tunisia, Turkey and Mexico. This time around, they won't be playing against the world's best teams such as world champions Brazil or Olympic winners Russia. The planned return to the top may be on course, but it will take time.

Download highresolution


| More

More press releases

02.09.2014 23:59:48
Zaytsev and reserve players made the job for Italy
Krakow, Poland, September 2, 2014 - Both coaches Laurent Tillie from France and Mauro Berruto from Italy agreed after the game that Michele Baranowicz... More...
02.09.2014 23:57:09
FIVB Men's World Championship - Day 4 - As It Happened
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 - Following the action from day four of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Poland 2014. Tuesday's six mat... More...
02.09.2014 23:05:40
Italy unveil a remarkable comeback for a 3-2 win over France
Krakow, Poland, September 2, 2014 - FIVB Men’s World Championship Pool D in Krakow delivered another fantastic game that featured a phenomenal reactio... More...
02.09.2014 23:04:08
Poland make record success in World Championship opener
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 2, 2014 – The FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014 will go down in history as the biggest opening eve... More...
02.09.2014 22:57:39
Very few errors by Poland in second win
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 – Big serves and few mistakes were the keys for the second victory of hosts Poland in Pool A of the FIVB Men’s Worl... More...
02.09.2014 22:22:12
Big crowd enjoy second Poland victory
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 – Poland picked up another three points in Pool A of the FIVB Men’s World Championship as they beat Australia in st... More...
02.09.2014 19:48:30
“Important win for new generation” – Venezuelan Piñerua
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 – Captain Kervin Piñerúa, who led his team with 26 points, pondered on the meaning of the victory over Cameroon for... More...
02.09.2014 19:39:34
Experience was there for key player Bram Van Den Dries
Krakow, Poland, September 2, 2014 - After a bit of a sloppy game against USA, Belgian opposite led the way for the Red Dragons over Puerto Rico and co... More...
02.09.2014 19:21:20
Piñerua tops Venezuela with 26 points against Cameroon
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 – Following a great match, Venezuela scored their first points in FIVB Men’s World Championship Poland 2014 as they... More...
02.09.2014 18:29:26
Solid display from Belgium to cruise past Puerto Rico
Krakow, Poland, September 2, 2014 - With an amazing display from opposite player Bram Van Den Dries, Belgium enjoyed a comfortable win over Puerto Ric... More...