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Women s Olympic Games 2004 - Press Conference

Press conference

Cuba beat Russia 3-2 (26-24, 19-25, 25-27, 25-19, 15-13) - duration 2:07
16-Aug, start time: 22:05, end time: 0:12 - Attendance: 2'900
City: Athens; Hall : Peace and Friendship Stadium
Cuba beat Russia in fascinating thriller
Two of the most successful teams in the history of women's Volleyball completed a match reminiscent of the Sydney 2000 final with Cuba triumphing in a five-set thriller.

The result was a mirror image of the Sydney Olympics where the two teams contested a 3-2 (20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-12, 15-12) match in the Preliminary Round in favour of Russia before Cuba claimed victory in the final with another stunning five-set (25-27, 32-34, 25-19, 25-18, 15-7) performance.

This time, three-time Olympic champion Cuba was the team to take charge of the first set. However, Russia always managed to keep in touch and thanks to a late rally they tied the set at 24-24. A kill-block by Zoila BARROS FERNANDEZ - Cuba's one and only kill-block in the first set - and a magnificent serve-ace by Nancy CARRILLO de la PAZ led Cuba to claim a sensational first set 26-24.

Both teams continued to entertain in the second set. Guided by Lioubov SHASHKOVA and Ekaterina GAMOVA, Russia was the first side to reach 20 points at 20-16 and eight points later they had tied the match up at 1-1.

By the third set both sides at the top of their games. Neither would give an inch with Russia's good blocking on the one hand proving a valuable source of points while Cuba's great defending skills were superb. The set was finally closed with a successful spike by SHASHKOVA and a great ace by Olga NIKOLAEVA to give Russia the 2-1 lead.

With a performance of high quality blocking, clever setting and consistently superb defending Cuba did not leave any doubt as to which team was going to celebrate after the end of the fourth set. A five-set match was what both teams deserved.

Morale was the only difference between the two opponents in the tiebreaker. Inspired by their convincing win in the fourth set, Cuba were confident that they were going to win the point-by-point thriller. CARRILLO de la PAZ clinched the victory for the reigning Olympic champions with an ingenious lob to claim Cuba's first victory of the tournament.

ONS sk