FIVB U21 Championships
- June 23-July 2, 2017
- Brno, Czech Republic
Cuba 3, China 1 (25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 27-25)
Poland 3, Iran 2 (27- 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 15-11)
Poland secured its spot in the semifinals of the U21 Championships with a win over Iran, while Cuba stayed alive in the semifinals race with a four-set win over China.
Cuba 3, China 1
Cuba had a match point attempt in Set 3, but had to get through a fourth stanza to sew up an all-important win over China. The Cubans had help from 14 blocks in the victory, and also won the offensive battle (67-60) and service game (6-5). China committed just 14 errors in the match, but could only muster six blocks after a 30 stuff output on Tuesday.
“The team of China played very well, but in the end we took our chance and finished the match with victory,” Cuban coach Nicolas Vives Coffigny said.
Cuba rallied to steal away a 25-21 Set 1 victory, and squeaked past China in a 25-23 Set 2 score. Down 24-23 in Set 3, China scored three straight points to extend the match. The Chinese thwarted three more Cuban match point chances in Set 4, before a block by Javier Octavio Concepcion and Miguel David Gutierrez wrapped up the contest.
“We played a good match with a bad result,” Chinese captain Zhihao Liu said. “Cuba has a really strong team.”
Gutierrez led all scorers with 24 points, including 22 kills. Miguel Angel Lopez Castro added 20 points, with 17 kills and two aces, while Osniel Lazaro Melgarejo Hernandez chipped in 19 points, with 16 kills an two aces. Concepcion tallied 15 points, including four blocks and two aces.
Yuantai Yu managed 20 points, with 19 kills and a block, to lead China. Jingyi Wang (12) and Liying Zhou (11) added 11 kills apiece.
Poland 3, Iran 2
In a match decided by just six points, it was a few blocks and an ace that made the difference. Poland tallied 10 more kills (65-55), three more blocks (15-12) and one more ace (6-5) to counter their 34 miscues in the victory. Iran made just 26 errors.
“We had troubles in this match,” Polish coach Sebastian Pawlik said. “We produced stupid mistakes, but the final result is in our favor. We are in the semifinals and just waiting for the opponent.”
The first set featured five set-point chances, two by Poland and three by Iran, before the Iranian block clinched it at 29-27. Tomasz Fornal chipped in seven points as the Polish side rebounded with a 25-21 win. The Iranian offense gave the team a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-20 Set 3 victory. Fornal and Bartosz Kwolek teamed up to lift Poland to a Set 4 win. Damian Domagala piled up five points for Poland in the decisive fifth-set victory.
“That was not a match, it was a war,” Iranian coach Behrouz Ataei said. “Both teams showed excellent performances. The important point is that we made more mistakes. That is why Poland won the battle.”
Fornal tallied 20 points, with 15 kills, three blocks and two aces, for Poland. Kwolek added 17 points, including 15 kills, while Jakub Kochanowski (16) and Domagala (11) followed. Kochanowski put up a team-best four blocks alongside Norbert Huber.
Rasoul Aghchehli racked up 25 points, including 23 kills, but it was not enough to buoy his Iranian side to victory. Amirhossein Esfandiar added 12 points, with 10 kills and two blocks, while Aliasghar Mojarad chipped in five kills and a team-best four blocks. Javad Karimisouchelmaei served up four aces.
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