Cubans stop losing streak


Cuba's Javier Jimenez leads the celebration after the victory over Bulgaria at Centennial Hall on Saturday

Wroclaw, Poland, September 13, 2014 – Cuba captured their first victory in the second round of the FIVB Men’s World Championship with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 30-28) win over Bulgaria at Centennial Hall on Saturday night.

The victory earned three points for the Cubans who now have 5 in total, the same amount of the defeated side and without opportunities of moving to the next round.

Key facts

•Cuba broke a three-match losing streak
•It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Bulgarian side
•Cuba have won five of seven head-to-head matches with Bulgaria in world championships 

Osmany Uriarte led Cuba with 19 points while Javier Jimenez chipped in with nine of his own. Tavetan Sokolov and Todor Aleksiev finished with 11 and 9, respectively, for Bulgaria.

Before the start of the match, it was sure that both Cuba and Bulgaria had no chance to get into the third round. With Teodor Scrimov’s precise kills from counterattack, the Bulgarians started the match with a four-point lead. The Caribbeans decreased the loss thanks to Osmany Santiago Uriarte Mestre’s great moves and  managed to catch up the Europeans, as Isbel Mesa Sandoval produced an ace and Danail Milushev and Nikolay Penchev made some errors in the attack. Bulgaria kept the lead for a while as Andrey Zhekov and Svetoslav Gotsev were effective in a block. Surprisingly, Livan Osoria Rodriguez gave the Cubans lead 15-14 from counterattack. Following the second technical time-out, Cubans moves were very successful and thanks to Felix Emilio Chapman Pineiro ace, it was 20-17 for Cuba. Bulgarian players tried to change the result, however with powerful Uriarte Mestre’s spike the Caribbeans won 25-23.

The victory in the first set obviously inspired the world No. 7 ranked team as they quickly gained a 4-1 lead. The Bulgarians were making lots of mistakes by the likes of Milushev who sent the ball in the antenna. Head coach Plamen Konstantinov was forced to make changes in his team as Tsvetan Sokolov, Dobromir Dmitrov and Miroslav Gradinarov entered the court. However that did not helped the Europeans who were losing 6-12. Perfect Uriarte Mestre’s kill were unstoppable for Bulgarian block. The Bulgarians were desperately looking for points and thanks to Skrimov, Todor Alexiev and Teodor Todorov they decreased the loss from eight to four points. It was not enough to win against the confident Cubans, so following Mesa Sandoval’s kill, they gained the second set with the result 25-18.

The Europeans wanted to recover from the two unsuccessful sets but at the very beginning of the last part, Cuba gained 3-1 lead. Two promising kills were shown by Javier Ernesto Jimenez Scull. With Aleksiev’s spikes, Bulgaria managed to cause a tied score and following Zhekov’s kill, they took a lead 10-9. The Caribbeans started to have problems with finishing their moves which was immediately noticed by the world No. 8 ranked side. They showed a perfect triple block and Gradinarov spiked effectively, so that before the second technical time-out they led 16-13. When Cuban situation was getting more complicated, head coach Rodolfo Sanchez decided to substitute Osoria Rodriguez with captain Rolando Cepeda Abreu. That clearly woke up his team as they caught up the opponents and resisted the strong Bulgarian kills. The last part of the set was very tough but in a crucial moment Cuba’s team were more self-controlled and following Sokolov’s off target spike, they took a third part 30-28.


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