Havana, Cuba, June 12, 2009 - Cuba defeated Bulgaria 3-1 in their opening game of the 2009 World League tournament at the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum.
As usual, Cuba was supported by thousands of fans, and the match started with the lead changing hands on numerous occasions.
Cuba went ahead 18-13 thanks to a strong performance from captain Roberlandy Simon and Rolando Cepeda. The host team seemed full of confidence, but Bulgaria improved and overtook Cuba to capture the first set 26-24, inspired by some great work from an unstoppable Matey Kaziyski.
Cuba entered the second set determined to tie the score. Both squads did their best to hold the lead and fought hard to win. Supported by the vocal crowd, the inexperienced Cuba poured on the pressure at the end of the set. With the score tied at 27-27, Simon scored a spectacular ace. Cuba claimed the victory 29-27, sending its fans into deliriums.
The third set was very different with Cuba leading from the beginning. Cuban spikes and serves overwhelmed the Bulgarians, who couldn't figure out a way to respond to the attacking deluge. Cuba won the set easily, 25-18.
The fourth set was similar to the third. Cuba took an early advantage and held it until the end. Bulgaria tried to bounce back many times with a huge amount of effort, but it wasn't enough. A calm Cuba maintained its intensity in decisive points, and closed the match out witch a 25-22 win.
The teams will meet again tomorrow in the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum.
Cuba: Leon, Leal, Camejo, Cepeda, Simon, Diaz and Alvarez (L).
Bulgaria: Tsvetanov, Zhekov, Gaydarski, Kaziyski, Nikolov, Aleksiev and Salparov (L).