Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 16, 2017 – Cuba eased past China 4-1 (16-14, 6-15, 15-10, 15-10, 18-16) in the play off 5 to 8 positions in the 2017 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship here at Hall Tivoli in Ljubljana on Saturday afternoon.
All matches in Ljubljana are played under a new scoring system currently being tested: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
Cuba will battle it out against the winner of Thailand versus Brazil for the fifth position, while China play for the seventh position.
It will be Cuba’s best result at U23 world championships after finishing 9th in 2013 and 11th in 2015. China, on the other hand, cannot not confirm their first (2013) and fifth place (2015) from the two previous competitions.
As usual, Heidy Casanova Alvarez came out as top match scorer with 17 points followed by captain Diaris De La Caridad Perez Ramos with 15. China’s Jin Ye contributed 11 points as the best for the losers.
The Chinese team played their best in the second set as they deployed their solid offense against the struggling Cuban defense. However, it was far away from good enough. The powerful Cubans lived up to their exploit versus Brazil on Friday night, giving the Asian side an extremely hard time.
Cuba saved two set balls in the end of the fifth period before closing it out at 18-16.
Cuba coach Wilfredo Robinson: “Our team’s performance improves from match to match. We play against very strong opponents here in Slovenia. They force us to give our best on the court and that is why our routine improves day by day. Sometimes we still lack of stability – however – we are working on it.”
Cuba captain Diaris De La Caridad Perez Ramos: “We did not have much time to study China’s play. We worked very hard in block and defence. We knew that China serve very well and has a strong fighting spirit. That’s why we had to give our best on the court today.”
China coach Wu Sheng: “This was the first time that we played at this venue. We did not have time to get accustomed to the new arena. Thus, it was our worst performance in this tournament. I am very disappointed. We will try to prepare well for our last match and I will try to help my players boost their spirits after today’s loss.”
China captain Long Cheng: “We are very disappointed. From the very beginning, we committed too many mistakes. Cuba’s play improved from game to game.”
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