Brazil women’s volleyball overwhelms Cuba

Sunday, July 13, 2008

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- World silver medallists Brazil overwhelmed Cuba in a top-of-the-table battle to move to within a step away from winning the World Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday.

The Brazilians, also runners-up to Italy in the World Cup here last year, coasted to a surprisingly straightforward 25-14, 25-15, 25-20 victory over the former world champions.

It was Brazil’s fourth straight win against no defeat in the six-team round robin competition, handing Cuba their first defeat in four matches.

Italy, who lost to Brazil and Japan on the previous two days to be out of contention, returned to their winning ways by beating the United States 25-17, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19.

Italy have a 2-2 win-loss record and the United States 1-3.

Brazilian coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes, who was never satisfied after beating Italy and Olympic champions China, once again appeared modest despite an easy victory in only 62 minutes, saying: “I have no illusions.”

“Cuba missed two important players. It’s not that we won because they are not strong. I expect it to be a very, very tough match in the Olympics. We also have several injured players,” said Guimaraes.

“Of course, I’m happy with the win, but I’m not satisfied with the result at all. We played very well in every aspect — serves, attacks and receive of serves — that’s all.”

But Guimaraes welcomed the return of Marianne Steinbrecher, who missed the World Cup. “Marianne helps our team really well. She is now a wing attacker and she has been improving match by match. She always scores on important points.”

Cuba’s coach Antonio Perdomo Estrella said the Brazilians played well.

“Brazil played a perfect game. It was not that we couldn’t serve very well, but that Brazil received them extremely well today. We couldn’t play our usual game,” Estrella said.

Meanwhile, the Italians missed key players Antonella Del Core and Simona Gioli as Del Core left the team after a medical check at the Hong Kong round and Gioli stayed at home with her baby.

“She (Del Core) will not be with us in the Olympic Games,” said Italian coach Barbolini Massimo, adding that Gioli would be back in Beijing.

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