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 Match info | Description
Russia beats Cuba in breathtaking tie-break

Celebration time for Russia

Havana, Cuba, June 20, 2009 - Russia defeated Cuba in five sets (25-18, 19-25, 21-25, 25-20 and 13-15), in front of about 15,000 spectators at Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum during Pool C action of the 2009 World League.

Cuba lost for the first time in the qualifying round, while Russia leaves Havana with a 3-1 win-loss record.

Both squads stayed with Friday's starting lineups, but it was an even affair to begin with. As a matter of fact, Russia couldn't get a two-point lead until the 12th point. Cuba's setters managed to fix their poor receiving, and libero Kleiber Gutierrez proved once again his boldness, diving and saving some incredible balls. The visitors gave away a 13-10 advantage, but recovered later. Yury Berezhko struggled, but Cuba's serve didn't help the home team. Youngster Wilfredo Leon thrilled everyone with a powerful ace and Cuba went ahead 18-17. A huge blockade by giant Alexey Kazakov flipped the score. The Cubans became unfocused and finally lost the set 21-25.

Cuba head coach Orlando Samuells opened the second set with Miguel Angel Dalmau instead of Osmany Camejo. After a couple of good plays, Dalmau got rather lost on court, but vindicated himself with an astonishing spike. Russia took a 2-6 lead but Cuba entered the first technical timeout at 8-6. Captain Roberlandy Simon gave a statement of authority with a solo blockade and the fans unleashed the "wave" around the Coliseum. That reaction somehow demoralized the Russians, who failed to make the most of Cuba's few mistakes, while Leon was almost unstoppable and Cuba evened the match. 

Russian star Semen Poltavsky woke up and scored some good points. On the other side, Rolando Cepeda was ineffective, but Samuells kept him on court. 15-year-old Leon was Cuba's weapon of choice, and Russia chased him down. Cuba pushed ahead 19-12 and seemed for a time to be the only team on court. Russian head coach Daniele Bagnoli couldn't hide his disappointment at the poor attacks, worsening serves and a lack of leadership that took his players out of the game. An ace by Cepeda gave the set to Cuba 25-21.

Nevertheless, the Russians fought back and took the lead in the 4th set. Joandri Leal, with his peculiar hairstyle, got back into the game and drilled Russia's defense with some potent spikes. Cuba evened the set 11-11. Captain "Babyface" Kazakov led the Russian resurrection, hurting the Cubans with his tricky serve. The home squad erased a 4-point lead. Alexsandr Volkov got a yellow card for questioning a referee's call. The game got tense, but Russian never lost its temper again and won the set 25-20.

Two matches, two tie-breaks. Cuba started strong for the second night in a row. After a couple of strong blockades, the home team went ahead 5-3. Evgeny Sivozhelev tied the set with an unstoppable diagonal spike. Cuba gave away some serves, but managed to keep their one-point lead. Yury Berezhko made a crucial ace and Russia surpassed Cuba 8-7. The set was a heartbreaker. Both teams had many service errors, but in the end Russia made fewer mistakes and won the match. 


Starting lineups

Russia: Semen Poltavsky, Evgeny Sivozhelev, Alexey Kazakov, Yury Berezhko, Alexsandr Volkov, Alexandr Yanutov (L)

Cuba: Wilfredo Leon, Osmany Camejo, Joandry Leal, Rolando Cepeda, Roberlandy Simon, Yoandri Diaz, Kleiber Gutierrez (L).




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