Ljubljana, July 4, 2019 – Cuba, Turkey and hosts Slovenia get spots in the 2019 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Challenger Cup semifinals after the second day of competition in Ljubljana. Cuba triumphed over Belarus 3-1, Turkey claimed victory over Chile, ultimately eliminating their opponents from the quest for a place in the 2020 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Turkey were a favourite of the matchup with Chile and they proved that on the court, dominating in all elements and winning 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-22). The most significant advantage they had was in attack (47 to 35 points in this element) and serve with 8 aces.

Yigit Gulmezoglu scored a match-high 18 points followed by Adis Lagumdzija with 14. Vicente Parraguirre was the top scorer for Chile (12).

Arslan Eksi, captain of Turkey: “We are very happy that we are already qualified to the semifinals. Tomorrow we are going to play against the hosts, it will be also interesting to see how the game between Cuba and Egypt will end. In today’s game we didn’t reach our level, maybe it’s also about Chile. The most important thing is to reach the level which we had at the European Golden League Final Six in next games.”

“I motivated my players before the match saying that this was the most important match for this tournament, if they start this game well, we will also go through other matches in the same way. I asked them to give their best today, pushing themselves stronger. I’m satisfied after this game, but it’s our ninth match this season, we travelled a lot and the players are very tired, so I’m happy about what they showed today. I think that we will play here against Slovenia twice during this tournament,” said coach Nedim Ozbey.

In the first match of the day, Cuba defeated Belarus 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20), thus qualifying for the VCC semifinals. It was a difficult game for both teams, however the Cubans were more efficient in attack (56% to 49%) and it was the decisive element.

Marlon Yang Herrera (18 points), Jesus Herrera Jaime (17) and Miguel Angel Lopez Castro (17) demonstrated their strength at the net, however the best scorer of the game was Radzivon Miskevich of Belarus (21).

Cuba captain Livan Osoria Rodriguez said: “At the beginning we had to get to know our opponent, since we had never played against Belarus before. We had only their match against Egypt yesterday to prepare our strategy. In the first set we played well, in the second one not that well, but we managed to claim the victory at the end. We always play to win and it will not be any different tomorrow, we will go for a new win.”

“We are a young team with a great desire to play. In the second set we were a bit unstable in our game, but we improved our performance, especially in the fourth set, we were a better team and we won the match,” said Nicolas Vives, head coach of Cuba.

Miskevich  noted that both teams struggled with errors: “We opened the game very badly, but also Cuba didn’t start it well, therefore we could see many mistakes on both sides of the net. The beginning of the decisive set was also very bad for us, but later we managed to catch up and score many points in a row. Our block worked perfectly then, but it was not enough. In general there were many ups and downs, small details made a difference.” Then he added: “We hope that we will be among the VCC semifinalists. We want to demonstrate our skills and we didn’t manage to do it so far, therefore we hope for another chance to perform here.”

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