FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship

Press release

Hard efforts pay as UPCN enter the semifinals

UPCN libero Sebastián Garrocq and all UPCN at full celebration

Belo Horizonte, Brazil, May 8, 2014 - After another five-setter, UPCN finally achieved a semifinal spot at FIVB Men’s Club World Championship in Belo Horizonte. The Argentinean team narrowly edged Al-Rayyan from Qatar by 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 18-25, 15-11).

UPCN grew from the 35 points gave away by Al-Rayyan, and as for as the scorer, their best was middle-blocker Martín Ramos, who charted 17. The Asian team combined their Cuban players once again: Michael Sánchez Bozhulev topped the list with 21 kills and Robertlandy Simón scored 20. 

In desperate need of a victory, UPCN opened the match very focused, jumping to 8-4 with an ace from Theo and a block of fellow Brazilian Junior on Simón. The Cuban had his rematch and blocked at 9-8, but UPCN stayed ahead to 13-9 again with Theo and enjoying good serves from Demián González. Junior blocked again, this time over Michael Sánchez, at 16-12, and the opposite crashed the ball into the net a while later (20-14). Theo contributed more at the end until hitting the 25-19. 

Argentinean four-time champion also secured the lead in the second set, in this case by 8-6 after two attacking mistakes of Al-Rayyan. However, Simón fired a sharp ace down the sideline to level the scores at 10 and the match entered a point-by-point basis. UPCN broke the tie with Bogdan Olteanu hammering some serves and regained the lead to 16-13, allowing his team to be in front until the very end, despite another awesome ace from Simón at 19-17. Al-Rayyan achieved another tie at 20-20, but after that failed three times in a row (24-20) and Junior blocked for the 25-20.

Al-Rayyan came back for the third set: after another two serve points from Simón (4-2), Kaziyski made a great defensive effort and his side earned an 8-5 advantage. UPCN showed some problems in reception and the Asian team advanced first to 14-9 and then to 18-13, using more errors from the South Americans. Simón unleashed another ace and Al-Rayyan made it look very simple at the end, with Sánchez scoring the 25-17.

All the energy seemed to be in Al-Rayyan for the fourth set, as UPCN had no reflexes at some easy balls, and the team from Qatar also kept a good serving towards an 8-3 score. A single block from Raphael Vieira widened the gap to 12-6 and Simón, who proved once more to be vital, smashed the ball at 16-9. Sánchez also blocked superbly (19-10) and, even though UPCN enjoyed a good breath of fresh air with youngster Nicolás Lazo (23-17), the set finally went for Al-Rayyan at 25-18, after a nice kill from Kaziyski. 

At their last chance, UPCN reacted. The Argentinean side took a 6-3 lead with wing spiker Filardi and then used the center of the net to change sides by 8-6. However, Al-Rayyan managed to tie at 9-9 and the end of the game was thrilling. Kaziyski came out with an ace to put his team in front (11-10), but Olteanu answered and UPCN bounced back to 12-11. Then, a wrong ball by Simón and a block of Junior over him placed UPCN at range (14-11). The Cuban tried again, but his spike went wide and UPCN celebrated by 15-11.

The result placed UPCN in the second place of Pool B, while Al-Rayyan topped the group thanks to the point earned. Trentino was left out of the tournament, no matter what result get against Esperance Tunis.

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