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Cuba shuts door on Argentina in tense second-round opener

Cuba, right, held off a stubborn Argentina on Wednesday
Belgrade, Serbia, July 22, 2009 - Cuba defeated Argentina in the opening match of the 2009 FIVB World League's second round 1-3 (22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 24-26).
Cuba took advantage of a nervous start by Argentina, jumping out to a five-point advantage at 13-8. Argentina's lack of concentration saw them lose seven points on errors. As the point difference grew, it seemed the first set would be easily won by Cuba, but Gustavo Scholtis helped Argentina cut the difference to 19-17. That was as close as Javier Weber's team got, however, and the set went to Cuba 22-25.

Argentina regrouped in the second set and held the lead until Cuba succeeded in taking a 2-point difference. Argentina introduced Lucas Ocampo instead of Rodrigo Quiroga and his service lifted them into a 14-11 advantage. Strong determination of the part of the Cubans put them back ahead 18-15, thanks in particular to excellent play by Joandry Leal and Roberlandy Simon. Cuba led until 21-20, when Argentine middle blocker Gabriel Arroyo brought his team the first set ball and scored to win the second frame 25-22.

The score seesawed in the third set but Argentina let at the first technical timeout 8-4. The Cubans bounced back and roared ahead with Wilfredo Leon at the service line. With three aces in a row, Cuba made it 23-20, but a stubborn Argentina held on to level the score once again. But Leon would not allow his rivals to get back in the match and the set ended 24-26 in favor of Cuba.

In the fourth set Cuba led at the first TTO 8-5, but Argentina succeeded to get back in front with firm blocking and good serves and took a 16-12 lead into the second TTO. Once again, Cuba managed to fight back with the blocks of Osmany Camejo and Simon at 22-21, but Scholtis scored from the counter attack to tie the score at 22. But with the score level at 24, Cuba dug deep to secure the two final points to win the set and the match.


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