|Germans overcome Cuba in three sets|
Margareta Kozuch paced Germany with 15 points including two blocks and two aces, while Corina Sshuske had three blocks among her 12 points. Maren Brinker contributed 10 tallies.
Cuban Kenia Carcaces had a match-high 17 points and young Yoana Palacios added 12 for the defeated side.
After Friday's humiliating defeat to Croatia, ranked 39 places below them, Cuba needed to come out firing, and they seemed to be a different team as they took an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Yanelis Santos and Kenia Carcaces showed good early form and the whole team looked transformed from Friday's disaster. Germany coach Giovanni Guidetti had to call a timeout after dropping four straight points to fall 12-6 behind, and it helped stop the rot. Rachel Sanchez promptly planted her next serve into the net and Corina Ssuschke made an excellent block on the big-hitting Carcaces. After Santos sent a drive wide, the gap was down to three points, but more importantly it had the Cubans doubting themselves again.
Santos steadied the ship with a cracking spike and a nice block on Maren Brinker as Cuba eased out to a 16-12 lead at the second TTO. But the Germans are persistent and the pressure on Cuba never let up. A spike by Saskia Hippe brought the scores level at 20-20 and, after a terrific set by Ssuschke, a bomb by the same player put them ahead. A great block by Hippe on Santos then put Germany three points up, but Carcaces spikes helped bring the Cubans back to parity at 23-23. Cuba saved one setpoint, but they were unable to return a massive smack from Margareta Kozuch at 25-24 and the Germans went 1-0 up.
Carcaces fought hard to keep her team in the game at the start of the second set, but Kozuch and Heike Beier responded for Germany, who were three points ahead at the first TTO. When that lead stretched to six points, coach Juan Gala Rodriguez called a timeout, which had an immediate effect as Cuba won the next four points, forcing Guidetti to bring his players off court. Germany had a five-point lead at the second TTO and a seven-point stretch meant they were 10 points up at 23-13, with Cuba looking deflated. A sharp spike by captain Christiane Furst brought setpoint at 24-15 and a mixup in the Cuban team put Germany 2-0 up.
Yoana Palacios helped Cuba to an early lead in the fourth set, but Kozuch replied for Germany with some big hits, while Ssuschke made a big block on Palacios and Germany were two points up at the first TTO. Germany kept the pressure on Cuba with their efficient Volleyball and the Cubans – somewhat less efficient – struggled to keep up. Maren Brinker started landing some hefty blows as the Germans stretched their lead. But the Cubans made a big improvement on their blocking and that helped narrow the gap to two points at 18-16 and then one point at 19-18 – and then they were level at 21-21. Two Cuban errors gave Germany a two-point lead, but a crashing drive from Carcaces narrowed that to one. But a miss by Palacios handed Germany two matchpoints. Palacios responded with her hardest hit of the night, but Ssuschke had the final say with a line drive that sealed the match for Germany.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS