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China prevail in tough duel with Cuba

Chinese players celebrate together with compatriots who came to Centennial Hall in wroclaw to support their team
Wroclaw, Poland, September 14, 2014 – China erased a 2-1 deficit and progressed to a 3-2 (19-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 15-11) victory over Cuba in the last match of the FIVB Men’s World Championship at Centennial Hall of Wroclaw on Sunday.

Both sides finished with 2-5 win-loss records but Cuba gained 6 points from those matches to only four by China.

Key points

•It was the first match between the two sides at the World Championship
•China won their last two matches in the tournament
•Cuba have now won 12 of 16 meetings with China in major competitions

China’s  Zhong Weijun notched 20 points as the leading scorer of the match, followed by teammate Ji Daoshuai who finished with 18. Cuba’s Osmany Uriarte had 13 points while Rolando Cepeda and Felix Chapman registered with 12 and 11, respectively.

From the beginning of the last match in Wroclaw, Cuba was determined to play with a great strength. They immediately jumped out to 6-1 lead. It was mainly Osmany Uriarte’s credit and his spectacular kills which were a big problem to China’s team. For the next time, he was applying for being the best scorer in his team as he was effective in the counterattack and the block too. Following the first technical time-out, the Asian side managed to close to the opponents thanks to Chunlong Liang and Daoshuai Ji. However the focused Cubans quickly regained a promising lead and before the second break, the scoreboard showed the result 16-10. With the next moves, the Caribbeans were controlling the game and did not let China to change the result. Following Weijun Zhong service mistake, Cuba won the first set 25-19.

With two fantastic blocks made by Liang, Ji and Runming Li, China surprisingly took a lead 3-0 in the second part of the meeting. The Cubans tried to get closer to the opponents with the kills by the likes of Isbel Mesa Sandoval but with the effective China’s block, they loss was extended to four points. That forced head coach Rodolfo Sanchez to ask for a time-out for his team which helped the Caribbeans for a while. However the world No. 19 ranked side was well concentrated and motivated to win the set. Cuba was doing what they could to frustrate the opponents’ plans but with Felix Chapman’s error, China gained a victory 25-20.

Following the two exciting sets, both teams believed that they could win the match, so that in the third part they were playing point-by-point. With Mesa Sandoval and Rolando Cepeda’s smart moves, Cuba took a lead 10-8. That clearly confused Chinese players as they started to make a lot of errors in the attack. The Caribbeans noticed a chance in the opponents’ problems and thanks to Chapman Pineiro and captain Cepeda Abreu, they led 16-10. Head coach Guochen Xie’s team wanted to disturb the rhythm of Cuba’s play with the spikes by the likes of Zhichao Kou. However it did not help to stop the world No. 7 ranked team as they were motivated to obtain the next set. Thanks to Mesa Sandoval, Cuba won 25-18.

The beginning of the next set was very similar to the previous one, as neither Cuba nor China could take a clear lead. For the technical time-out, the Caribbeans got off the court with leading 8-7 but they did not manage to extend it. With some perfect serves and superb spikes by the likes of Kou and Jingtao Xu, not only did China take a lead, but also finished several moves in a row. Coach Sanchez’s team were making catastrophic errors, so that the Asian side led 22-18. The Cubans were more and more nervous and with Uriarte Mestre’s off target’s spike, the set was finished 25-20 for China.

In the tie-break, both teams were desperate to win the last meeting on this championship, as it was sure that they will not qualify to the final six. With fantastic dink and superb Zhong’s ace, China took a leading 5-3. Cuba tried to oppose the Asians as Cepeda Abreu and Uriarte Mestre were spiking successfully but with other errors, China’s side were keeping the two-point lead. In a decisive moment, Kou produced an unstoppable kill and Zhong showed the next kill. China gained a lead which the Cubans could not catch up. The set was finished with the result 15-11 by captain Weijun Zhong.


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