Cuba edge Italy in thriller

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A Brazil player goes for a smash against Turkey at the U-23 World Championship 2015 in Dubai on Saturday. Brazil won 3-1.
A Brazil player goes for a smash against Turkey at the U-23 World Championship 2015 in Dubai on Saturday. Brazil won 3-1. - Photo by Dhes Handumon

Dubai - Russia outgun Mexico to enter semis at men's U-23 World Championship

By Moni Mathews

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Published: Sun 30 Aug 2015, 7:15 PM

Unbeaten Cuba fought back brilliantly to edge Italy 3-2 (25-27, 23-25, 26-24, 27-25, 15-9) in two and half hours of pulsating volleyball to claim the top spot in Group A in the final round of the qualifying phase of the second men's Under-23 World Championship on Saturday.
Down 19-21 in the fourth set, things looked like the Blues racing to the pool top in the league cum knockout event but the resurgent Cubans pulled off a near impossible victory afterwards at Al Nasr Stadium.
Russia outgunned Mexico 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-17) to claim the top pool spot in Group B at Al Ahli stadium. Russia were too efficient for the central Americans, winning points from their raids that originated from well planned and executed passes, and also from the unforced errors of their opponents. At times, the Mexicans even found receiving simple serves a difficult task.
Defending champions Brazil suffered another severe jolt when they went down 2-3 (18-25, 18-25, 33-31, 25-23, 13-15) to outsiders Argentina, so ably led by spike king Pablo Koukartsev on the fourth day of Pool B proceedings late on Friday.
But with one more game left in their group programme, the defending champions who had seven points after the debacle against Argentina (6 points), have a better opening to qualify for the semis. Argentina took the initiative from the beginning of the first set and extended the gap till the end. Koukartsev and Joaquin Gallego's serves took the Argentines past their more reputable opponents when they made a great comeback to win the rubber and the match 3-2.
Argentina coach Martin Lopez said: "Every time we play against Brazil, we have a great game. We did a great job at blocking and defence. We are playing good transition ball, but in the third and fourth we were not up to the mark."
"I think it was a great victory. Very tough game and they did an excellent job. The last part of the third set we couldn't finish it. After that fourth set we knew it was tough to go into the semis as we missed out on the three points," said Gonzalo Quiroga, the Argentina captain.
Brazil coach Leonaldo Roberley said: "Argentina have improved a lot since we played them last. In the fifth set we had a good start and we were four points in front, but we committed mistakes during the crucial points and we lost the opportunities that came our way. Congratulations to Argentina that they believed they could win the game all the time. You need to keep your concentration and be alert all the time."
"We made mistakes in the important moments. We fought till the end of the match. I want to congratulate Argentina as they did a great job. The first two sets was very bad as we couldn't play the way we had planned. I am very sad that we lost, but we will continue the championship with the same spirit," Thiago Veloso, the Brazilian skipper said.
South Korea got consolation points with a hard fought 3-1 victory over Egypt in another late Friday clash in Group A at Al Nasr Club.
The Koreans won 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 19-25, 25-22) as Kim Sungmin's swooping spikes from all over the court ultimately gave the Asian number two a narrow edge in a close match as they slowly but steadily marched past the Pharaohs.

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