Cuba Upsets Russia; Poland Edges Brazil in 5 to Set Up U21 Finals

  0 Wendy Mayer | July 01st, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball

FIVB U21 Championships



Cuba 3, Russia 1 (25-15, 25-18, 16-25, 25-23)

Poland 3, Brazil 2 (25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12)


The finals of the FIVB U21 Championships are set after Cuba topped Russia in four sets and Poland edge Brazil in five.

The Polish win puts the team on course for a possible third title in only its third Final Four appearance. Poland won the U21 Championship in its two previous chances in 1997 and 2003.

Meanwhile, Cuba will vying for its first title, after finishing second in 1987 and 2009. The team has guaranteed itself a fifth podium finish in its fifth Final Four appearance. Cuba finished third in 1985 and 2005.

The bronze medal match will pit three-time defending champion Russia against Brazil, which is looking to improve on its 2015 fourth-place finish.


Cuba 3, Russia 1

In the upset of the day, Cuba knocked off three-time defending champion Russia in four sets.

“Of course we are very happy because at the very least we have a medal,” Cuban coach Nicolas Vives Coffigny said. “We have worked for a long time to get this good result. We have not reached our limit yet, and we are going to fight tomorrow for an even better result.”

Cuba set the tone for the match with a 25-15 Set 1 win. Osniel Lazaro Melgarejo stepped up for the Cubans in a 25-18 Set 2 victory. Russia returned to form behind Ivan Piskarey and seven blocks in a 25-16 Set 3 win. Cuba led early in Set 4, only to see Russia charge back and knot the score at 20, but an ace by Miguel David Gutierrez capped the 25-23 win.

Russia outblocked the Cubans 11-9 and committed fewer errors (27-23), but could not compete at the net or from the service line, where it was outdone 52-40 in kills and 7-3 in aces.

“We were expecting it to be very difficult against Cuba,” Russian coach Vladimir Khromenkov said. “Unfortunately, we produced more mistakes than Cuba and eventually lost the game.”

Gutierrez scored a match-high 19 points, with 13 kills, four aces and two blocks to pace Cuba. Miguel Angel Lopez Castro added 17 points, with a team-best 16 kills, while Melgarejo added 12 points, including 10 kills. Jose Israel Masso Alvarez put up a team-leading four blocks.

Aleksei Kononov led a trio of Russian players with double-digit scoring efforts, tallying 13 points, with 12 kills and a block. Anton Semyshev and Piskarev each added 12 points. Semyshev downed 10 kills and added two stuffs, while Piskarev managed eight kills, two blocks and a team-best two aces.


Poland 3, Brazil 2

Poland won the first two sets, but had to rally for a five-set victory over Brazil and a spot in the final.

“Today’s result is a step we had to make before the last step tomorrow,” Polish captain Jakub Kochanowski said. “The first two sets were great. If we had played like this the entire match, it would have been 3-0. But we started to play worse and worse during the match and fortunately in the fifth set we found the energy that we had at the beginning of the match and we won.”

Kochanowski paced Poland with seven points in a 25-21 Set 1 win. He continued to find success in Set 2 as the Polish side grabbed a 25-19 win. Poland looked to have things sewn up in three sets, leading 21-20 in the third, but Brazil scored five straight to win 25-21 and stay alive in the match. The momentum stayed with Brazil in Set 4, thanks to a strong effort, both offensively and blocking, by Felipe Moreira Roque. Poland led throughout the decisive fifth set, but Brazil did not make it easy. Tomasz Fornal finally threw down the match-clinching kill at 15-12.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” Roque said. “The sets were close, but in the endings we made more mistakes.”

Kochanowski racked up a match-high 21 points, with 15 kills, four blocks and two aces. Fornal added 17 points, including 15 kills, while Jakub Ziobrowski chipped in 15 points, 13 kills and two blocks. Norbert Huber added 14 points, including a team-best four stuffs, while Bartosz Kwolek added 10 points, with a team-leading two aces.

Pablo Natan Ventura, Roque and Henrique Dantas Nobrega Honorato managed 17, 15 and 14 points respectively to pace the Brazilian attack. Ventura downed 17 kills, while Honorato chipped in 11 and Roque added 10. Roque and Honorato also added three blocks apiece.

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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