Lefty Katania Medina boosted Cuba from the second set
Sapporo, Japan, October 2, 2018 – Italy cruised past Cuba 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-20) on the third day of action in the FIVB Women’s World Championship at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on Tuesday.
Paola Egonu was Italy’s top scorer for the third match running. She scored 15 points, with Anna Danesi contributing 11, including three blocks. Cuba were led by Ailama Cese and Jessica Aguilera, who both scored nine points.
Italy had the edge in blocking points (8-3), aces (4-1) and errors (13-21) and never looked in danger of losing the match, although the Cubans recovered from a poor first set to offer Italy more of a challenge.
It was only Italy’s second ever win against Cuba in the World Championships, although Italy have now won seven of their last nine encounters against Cuba at world-level competitions. Italy have won all three of their matches 3-0 at this year’s World Championship. Cuba have lost theirs 3-0 and their 10-match losing streak is their longest without a win in the competition.
Italy had it too easy in the first set with big guns Paola Egonu, Cristina Chirichella, Lucia Bosetti and Anna Danesi firing at will against an almost non-existent defence. Cuba didn’t help their cause by planting three serves into the net, adding to their total of nine errors in the set. On the bright side, 17-year-old Ailama Cese came up with a couple of hefty spikes, but it was nearly all one-way traffic.
Cuba coach Tomas Fernandez brought in big-hitting lefty Kitania Medina for captain Diaris Perez and she had a positive effect on Cuba’s attack, putting Cuba ahead on the first point and, more importantly, putting them in a more attacking frame of mind. Another lefty, Ivy Vila, also did well as Cuba improved their all-around game enough to give Italy something to think about. The Cubans matched Italy to 3-3 but good digs by the Italians and a cracking spike from Egonu put Italy 8-4 up at the first technical timeout. Game over? Not quite. The Cubans had a different mindset and were defending, serving and attacking much better. A super block by Jessica Aguilera on Serena Ortolani cut Italy’s lead to 12-9 and another block by Gretell Moreno made it 21-18. But that was it for Cuba. The Italians were gifted two points on Cuban errors and Danesi landed a big hit as they finished off the set.
Cuba had a sloppy start to the third set, but a spike by Cese and a booming drive by Perez brought them to within two points at 7-5. The Cubans struggled to contain Ortolani in the second phase of the match and Italy moved into a five-point lead at 14-9. A rare service error by Italy – Egonu – was followed by a brilliant reaction dig from Moreno off a sharp Ortolani strike that fell in nicely and reduced the deficit to three points at 14-11. A lucky serve off the net cord saw the margin fall to two points at 16-14, but Italy weren’t troubled after that.