Gdansk, Poland, July 8, 2011 – Olympic champions USA beat Cuba 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 15-13) in their last match of the FIVB World League Finals in Gdansk, Poland confirming a third-place finish in Pool F.
USA's Matthew Anderson led all scorers with 29 points, while Cuba's Henry Bell scored 20 as both sides now await the results of Pool E to see which position they finish.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World League
Final Round - Poland July 6-10
Both teams knew before the match that they would be playing only for their honour and pride having been knocked out of contention for the semifinals on Thursday after suffering their second successive defeat. Nevertheless, all players were determined to collect their first win of the Finals and it showed on court.
With USA captain, Reid (William) Priddy rested for the match, David Lee took charge and was usual fired up best for the contest.
Set one started better for Cuba as they took the lead, but Anderson answered with two troublesome serves and an outstanding spike. Cuba had their noses ahead in the early exchanges, not letting the Americans control the game but thanks to some good serves, the world No. 5 tied the scores, keeping pace until Cuba, ranked No. 4 in the world, clinched the set thanks to a block out of Fernando Hernandez.
USA gained a two-point-advantage early in the second set and it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. With their block – and Lee at the helm - working exceptionally well, the 2008 champions led throughout to win the second set and tie the match up at 1-1.
The beginning of set three was very tight until the Americans jumped ahead at 11-8. They stayed in control with 24-year-old Anderson at his best thanks to some killer serves as USA scored five points in a row (from 16-15 to 21-15). Cuba were not able to fight back USA were soon ahead 2-1.
The fourth set continued the trend of the match with the teams inseparable until Cuba opened a slight lead at 12-10. The Americans, who finished eighth last year, fought back to tie the score at 17-17 before Cuba kicked again thanks to Bell who was not only superb on attack but wonderfully efficient on defence.
With the match going into the tie-break both sides were again countering each other’s spike with one of their own. It wasn’t until at 8-6 USA finally had some breathing space and the lead stayed that way until a Clayton Stanley line spike sealed the game.