Bulgaria defended well against a lively Cuba attack
Sapporo, Japan, September 30, 2018 – Bulgaria breezed past Cuba 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-14) on the second day of the FIVB Women’s World Championship at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on Sunday.
It was Bulgaria’s first win of the tournament after losing their opening match 3-0 to Italy on Saturday. Cuba, who lost 3-0 to China in their opener, dropped to 0-2.
Bulgaria were led once again by Gergana and Nasya Dimitrova, who both included a pair of aces in their respective 11 points. Diaris Perez had an impressive day in attack for Cuba, matching the points totals of the two leading Bulgarians. Ailama Cese, equally impressive in attack, picked up Cuba’s only service point and scored nine points in total on the day.
The difference in blocking points was indicative of the way the game went, with Bulgaria taking 11 points to Cuba’s two. Equally significant, Bulgaria claimed nine aces to Cuba’s one. Cuba committed 22 errors against seven for Bulgaria.
The two teams hadn’t met at a world-level major competition for five years, since the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix, when Bulgaria won 3-0. Cuba have now lost a record (for them) nine straight World Championship matches.
Cuba and Bulgaria had similar results on the opening day of the World Championship but if Cuba were expecting a close game, Bulgaria soon made them think otherwise. Bulgaria opened up a quick 3-0 lead before Perez replied for Cuba, but the Europeans were 8-3 up at the first technical timeout. True, the Cubans were as haphazard as they had been the day before, but the Bulgarians, led by Gergana Dimitrova, were obviously in a different frame of mind from their opening day loss. Bulgaria quickly extended their lead from 8-3 to 13-3, when they handed a point to Cuba with a netted serve. At 19-6, Cuba’s top scorers only had one point. Perez certainly tried to batter the Bulgarians with some brutal hits, but she was the only bright spot in a bleak first set for Cuba.
Not that the Cubans weren’t trying. They had a bright opening phase in the second set and were level with Bulgaria at 6-6. They were still matched at 9-9, but Bulgaria led 16-13 at the second TTO despite some ferocious hitting from Perez and 17-year-old Cese. Reception errors and Bulgaria’s excellent defence opened up a gap that Cuba, nine of whom are teenagers, were unable to close.
Perez and Cese continued to attack with flair in the third set and their teammates – especially libero Lianny Tamayo who threw herself around the court with some abandon – were fighting hard to hold off the Bulgarians, who continued to defend superbly. Bulgaria were 8-4 ahead at the first TTO and 16-8 at the second. Cuba fought gamely but there was no way back. A line drive by Gergana Dimitrova brought matchpoint and a wayward shot by Cese ended the proceedings.