Havana ball -- Cubans in party mood
Nagoya, Japan, November 11, 2006: World No. 5 Cuba remained on the heels of Italy and Serbia and Montenegro with a comfortable straight-sets victory over Korea on Saturday.
The three-time world champions improved their win-loss record to 4-2 in Pool E by defeating the eighth-ranked Koreans 25-19, 25-14, 25-22.
With the loss, Korea dropped to 0-6 for the second round and will be one of two Pool E teams going home before the final stages in Osaka on November 15-16.
The Koreans struggled in the early stages, especially southpaw spiker Hwang Youn-Joo out on the right against Cuba's expert block.
When a blistering jump serve from Nancy Carrillo softened up the Korean defence for Yenisei Gonzalez to pound another winner down the middle, Cuba were cruising at 6-2.
Carrillo admits her massive serve is always a risk, but one she is prepared to take, and when the next one whistled over Korean heads and beyond the end line, it sparked a Korean revival. Kim Se-Young blocked Carrillo, Hwang's left-handed jump serve was too hot to handle for libero Lisbet Arredondo, and setter Kim Sa-Nee tipped one over at the net for 6-6. This four-point run from Korea brought about a Cuba TO, and Yumilka Ruiz ended it on the next point with a classic flashing winner from the left.
With 18-year-old Kim Yeon-Koung and setter Kim Sa-Nee continuing to cause problems, Korea reached the second TTO in front 16-15, and Han Song-Yi moved Korea ahead by two at 18-16 as the spectators warmed to the Asian challenge.
After Rosir Calderon had spiked Cuba ahead again at 19-18, Daimi Ramirez had to leave the court after suffering a clearly painful finger injury.
Behind the fast and accurate serving of Gonzalez, Cuba steamed towards the first set 25-19, Carrillo completing the job with an easy winner at the net.
In the second set, Cuba led 8-5 at the first technical break. Ruiz was popping up all over the place to smash through the Koren block, but Jung Dae-Young gave the Cubans a taste of their own fiery medicine with a powerful spike at the net.
The introduction of 16-year-old Bae Yoo-Na boosted Korea's offence, and she was quickly among the points, but the Koreans had no answer to the Cuban firepower and trailed by six at the second technical break. Liana Mesa scorched the court with a right-wing sizzler, and Carrillo swooped imperiously at the net.
Mesa was in fine form, striking down the middle and on the right to push Cuba in front 24-14 and prompt one last desperate TO by Korea, and a Gonzalez serve clipped the net cord and dropped over to finish the second frame 25-14.
Now it was Mesa's turn to give a demonstration of high-speed jump serving, and with Calderon picking up the pieces around the net Cuba jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third set.
Korea called a TO down 10-3, and returned to score some well-worked winners from Kim Yeon-Koung. With the help of some wayward Cuban serving, Korea closed the gap to 11-7 and forced a Cuba TO.
Korea scored a remarkable point to move within three at 13-10, when Han Song-Yi's dig from a Calderon fireball caught the Cubans off guard and bounced just inside the end line for an unlikely winner.
Although the Koreans played their part in a fast and entertaining match, they were clearly second best in all departments and slid to their third straight loss in Pool E, despite a late flurry of excellent serves from Kim Yeon-Koung.