Cordoba, Argentina, July 24, 2010 – Defending champions Brazil gave themselves every chance of claiming a record ninth FIVB World League title after defeating Cuba 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20) in Saturday’s second semifinal at the state-of-the-art Orfeo Superdomo to book a meeting with Russia in Sunday’s final.
Dante topped the scores with 16 points for Brazil while Fernando Hernandez was the best scorer for Cuba with 11 points.
Just like the first semifinal, both teams studied themselves from the start with Cuba taking a slight lead before a Vissotto ace and a Bruno block leveled the scores at 4-4. But that was the last Brazil was to see of Cuba. Some quick fire spiking, outstanding spiking and overall great athletism from the likes of Wilfredo Leon, Joandry Leal and Hernandez saw Cuba kick out of the blocks well and never look back. Cuba led at the first TTO 8-5 before Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende called a timeout at 13-9 down. It didn’t have the desired effect as Cuba continued to extend their lead at 16-11 before closing out the set thanks to an awesome Leal spike down the line past Rodrigao and Lucas.
The second set started even before Dante’s great spiking put Brazil ahead 6-3. Cuba coach Orlando Samuels called his own time out but with his side suffering from digging problems, Brazil reach the first TTO 8-4 ahead. Vissotto and Murilo were the key behind Brazil’s return to form in the second set as Brazil led by four for most of the way before closing out six points ahead thanks to another piece of Dante magic.
Vissotto’s inspirational serving and a Leon over spike gave Brazil a 4-2 lead at the start of the third set. By this stage Dante was unstoppable on the spike and was responsible for Brazil reinforcing its lead. Some Leon magic at the service line tied the scores at 8-8 but Brazil soon retook the lead, despite losing Vissotto to an ankle injury. Vissotto’s replacement Theo immediately contributed with an ace before the error-ridden set closed out with Brazil ahead two sets to one.
By the time the fourth set started, Cuba was visibly losing confidence. Whatever they tried, Brazil would always bounce back. A slight lead at 12-10 raised hope in the Cuban camp but when the pressure came on, the wheels started falling off for Cuba. Murilo and Dante love these situations and rose their game. A Dante ace helped Brazil to a four point lead at 16-12, which in the end was enough to book Brazil their 10th appearance in a World League final.