Brazil topple Cuba in thrilling final

Latin Americans retain title; hosts go down to Argentina in bronze medal play-off

CHAMPION SPIKERS: The victorious Brazilian team poses with the trophy.

Brazil, who had to wage a grim battle to overcome hosts India in the semifinals on Saturday, again upped their game when it came to the crunch to put it past Cuba 30-28, 21-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-8 in a contest that lasted two minutes shy of an hour and three-quarters.

Rolando Abreu Cepeda was outstanding for Cuba, notching up an impressive 26 winners during the long-drawn encounter, but Brazil were the more dominant all-round side, Mauricio Silva brilliant in attack and Isac Santos having a fine game blocking at the net.

After Brazil took the first set that went to extra points in just under an hour, Cuba hit back immediately to restore parity. Brazil took the third set in 24 minutes to move to within touching distance of the title but with Cepeda in the forefront, Cuba again fought back to push the issue into the decider.

In the final set, however, Brazil stepped on the pedal, gradually pulling away from their fellow-South Americans to win the deciding set with a measure of comfort at 15-8.

Meanwhile, the miracle India was looking for did not happen and the hosts lost their bronze medal match to Argentina to finish fourth, their best show ever, in the FIVB World Championship.

Argentina’s aggression and determination saw them through as they blanked India 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-22) to finish with the bronze.

Argentina’s Facundo Conte was the star fpr Argentina producing 37 spikes, while for India in-form Gurinder Singh continued to be the ace attacker.

“The Argentine boys were at their best and we could not put up a strong opposition,” Indian coach MH Kumara said.

“But we have proved to be one of the finest teams, capable of fierce competition. It has been a learning experience for our boys and we feel enriched by the whole experience,” he said. In other matches, Russia edged out Belgium 3-1 to finish fifth, while Iran defeated United States by an identical margin for the seventh place.

Poland stormed past France 3-0 to be ninth and China beat Canada 3-2 to occupy the 11th place. Egypt beat arch-rival Tunisia 3-2 for the 13th place, while Belarus blanked Greece 3-0 to be 15th.

Results : Final: Brazil bt Cuba 3-2 (30-28, 21-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-8).
3-4 position: Argentina bt India 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-22); 5-6: Russia bt Belgium 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-15); 7-8: Iran bt United States 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-18); 9-10: Poland bt France 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-17); 11-12: China bt Canada 3-2 (21-25, 18-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-8); 13-14: Egypt bt Tunisia 3-2 (25-16, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-13); 15-16: Belarus bt Greece 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-22).

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