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FIVB World Grand Prix 2006
Match Description
Majestic Brazil sweep Cuba to reach final

Brazil's Jacqueline spikes against the Cuban block

 Reggio Calabria, Italy, September 9, 2006: Five-time World Grand Prix champions Brazil booked a place in Sunday's final with a majestic straight-sets defeat of Cuba in the first semi-final on Saturday afternoon.
 The two-time defending champions, seeking a straight hat-trick of titles this year and sixth in all, dazzled Cuba with a blur of canary yellow, winning 25-20, 25-15, 25-18.
 Cuba had won this title in 1993 and 2000 and had taken Brazil to four sets in qualifying in Tokyo, but could not come close on this occasion.
 Brazil took the first set comfortably, 25-20.
 They were much more consistent in their all-round play, especially on defence, and caused too many problems for the Cuban block with the crashing wing attacks of Sheilla Castro and Jaqueline Carvalho, and the razor-sharp net play of Fabiana Claudino and Walewska Oliveira.
 And then there was Welissa "Sassa" Gonzaga, who was celebrating her 24th birthday in customary style, with a barrage of powerful winners. No Cubans were invited to the party on this day.
 Yumilka Ruiz, who had pummelled Italy in their Pool A meeting earlier in the week, could not get into the game at all, leaving Rosir Calderon and Daimi Ramirez as Cuba's main attacking forces out wide.
 Nancy Carrillo displayed some acrobatic defence alongside her blistering jump serves and swooping spikes down the middle, while Yenisey Gonzalez was quick to pick off anything at the net, where the battle against Fabiana and Walewska was fierce.
 Brazil led 8-2 and 16-12 at the two technical breaks, and birthday girl Sassa showed some clever footwork down the home stretch, keeping the ball alive with the instep of her right foot in a move which would have made Ronaldinho proud.
 Sassa brought up set point on the left and then appeared on the opposite side to close it out after Calderon had delayed the inevitable.
 Brazil maintained their fast tempo in the second set, and Cuba could make no headway under this relentless pressure.
 When Castro blocked Ruiz again, head coach Felipe Calderon was persuaded to remove the veteran from the attack, and hope that Brazil might stumble against the new Cuban combinations.
 The Canaries were unfazed, though. Castro scored with a scorcher on the right, and Walewska struck like lightning at the net to bring up the second TTO with her team well in control at 16-11.
 Calderon, wide on Cuba's left, must have felt she was hitting against a yellow brick wall, as the ball came back with interest from the swift and well-drilled Brazilian block. Fabiana brought up set point at 24-15 with a trademark winner at the net, and a Walewska block on a tiring Carrillo on the next point did the rest.
 In the third set, Cuba took up the challenge and led 8-2 at the first technical break, and then 10-5, to suggest a comeback was brewing.
 But the Cubans collapsed and lost nine straight points to fall behind 14-10, Brazil eventually reaching the second TTO with an unlikely four-point cushion.
 From 16-12, Brazil could smell victory. Yaima Ortiz offered brief resistance with some spectacular spiking, but Carvalho, wide on the left, and Walewska at the net kept Brazil on course. The crumbling Cubans looked increasingly disgruntled as Brazil completed the third set 25-18.