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FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2006
 
Match Description
 
Cuba beat hosts 3-1
 

Calderon (CUB) spikes against Ochiai and Sugiyama (JPN)
Nagoya, Japan, November 8, 2006: Japan's chances of reaching the semi-finals were dealt a severe blow with a 3-1 loss to Cuba in Pool E.
The Cubans fought back from a set down to win a punishing battle 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 to improve their chances of a top-two finish in the second round.
Cuban points machine Rosir Calderon was quickly into her stride, and had the crowd gasping as she climbed effortlessly on the left and spiked ferociously through the Japanese block -- and that was only the first point of the match.
A block by Nancy Carrillo on Shuka Oyama showed how difficult it would be for Japan's outside hitters, but the Cubans let themselves down with a series of service errors.
Oyama, on the other hand, fired a service ace to spark Japan's challenge, and the home team reached the first TTO ahead by three at 8-5.
As ever, Miyuki Takahashi produced a constant flow of points for Japan. On one attack, Erika Araki played the decoy role down the middle and left Takahashi to thump the ball home, and then she capitalised on some acrobatic defence by her teammates for another hard-earned point.
Cuba continued to come up with some mighty spikes, though, through Yanelis Santos on the right, Daimi Ramirez down the middle and Carrillo at the net.
When Yumilka Ruiz spiked wide from an acute angle on the left to leave Japan ahead 22-21, Cuba called the first time-out of the match.
Oyama brought up set point at 24-21 and Araki closed out the first set 25-22 when the Cuban block again failed to deal with the attack cleanly.
Early in the second set, Cuba coach Felipe Calderon switched setters, replacing Santos, who had been serving bullets, with Liana Mesa -- and she set up Calderon with a fiery winner to take Cuba to the first technical break ahead by 8-7.
The battle was furious at the net, and when Cuba looked to be dominating, Japan called a TO down 11-8.
Calderon was full of points on the block and in attack, and Carrillo blocked Oyama imperiously, turned and punched the air as the Cubans began to rumble. Oyama was having a tough time, and now Yenisei Gonzalez turned back her attack.
Cuba had a four-point cushion, 16-12, at the second TTO, but lost the first two points on resumption of play and needed a TO. Saori Kimura led Japan's reply, first with a swoop down the centre to finish off another frantic rally, and then when she jumped from a standing start on the right to score across court from what looked an impossible angle.
Trailing 21-18, Japan head coach Shoichi Yanagimoto took off Oyama and replaced her with Mari Ochiai.
Cuba had three set points at 24-21, and needed them all before Mesa, with an overhead toss, set up Ramirez on the right for a blistering winner to settle it 25-23 for 1-1.
The Cuban block was in full swing at the start of the third set, and with the aid of some poor Japan serving, the visitors led 8-4 at the first technical break.
Araki and Kimura brought Japan back, and even Carrillo began to make attacking errors as the Cuban lead dwindled to 11-9 and forced coach Calderon to call a TO. An astonishing jump and spike from Takahashi closed the gap to one point, but Japan could not maintain this and Ruiz brought up the second TTO with a lead of 16-10.
A block by Araki on Gonzalez was followed by some scintillating spikes from Kimura, and Japan pulled to within two as the Cuban attack faltered, bringing about the return of Santos.
Takahashi served long to give Cuba set point at 24-21, and Ruiz, rising with springs in her heels on the left, brought Cuba home 25-22 for a 2-1 lead.
The Cubans were flying. Mesa silenced the crowd with a blockbuster on the right, and Ruiz followed on the left, as Japan hung on.
Ochiai and Sachiko Sugiyama now became increasingly influential and Japan forged ahead thanks to some acrobatic defence and a loss of rhythm in the Cuban attack. Another block by Araki on Ruiz, followed by a wild Ruiz spike, gave Japan a two-point advantage, 16-14, at the second TTO.
Calderon was virtually unplayable on the left, and Carrillo battered her way down the middle to keep Cuba ahead down the stretch.
A nonchalant Carrillo block on Sugiyama brought up match point at 24-20, and Midori Takahashi spiked long to end it 25-22.