Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 29, 2015 – Cuba overcame a slow start to defeat Italy 3-2 (25-27, 23-25, 26-24, 27-25, 15-9) to top Pool A at the FIVB Men's U23 World Championship at Al Nasr Hall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
Both teams already booked earlier semifinal tickets as Italy Face winner of Pool B Russia, while Cuba have to wait for their opponent from the match between Turkey and Brazil later today.
Behind the offense of Osmany Uriarte, who led all the players in the game with 26 points, Cuba brushed aside Italy's team that gave away 31 points via errors. Abrahan Alfonso contributed 22 points and David Gutierrez 11 to the winning effort. Tiziano Mazzone was the top offensive player for the European team with 23 points followed by Gabriele Nelli 19.
Cuba scored 21 blocks against 15 for the Italian who had a slim 4/2 advantage in serving
Italy started in a slow rhythm, while the Cubans were near to win the first set when they were ahead 23-21 after good attacking strategy through Uriarte and Afonso. Italy came up with goods on time after good combinations led by setter Luca Spirito using all their powerful attackers. Cuba missed 2 set points before Italy did it to win 27-25.
Cuba was ahead again in the 2nd set 8-7 at the first TTO. Opposite spiker Gabriele Nelli again scored from his traditional attacks to aid Italy for a slim lead 16-15. With the Cuban team making a pressure through the quick attacks, Italy hardly finished the set 25-23 and result became 2-0.
In the third set Italy kept their rhythm to stay leading 8-6 and 16-14 in the TTOs using the Cuban unforced errors in reception and digging to widen the score to 20-17. Cuba emerged in the crucial time to win consecutive points through the strong attacks before centre Rodriguiez Osoria scored the winner from a position 3 quick attack.
Cuba maintained their pressure early is set 4, while Italian coach made some substitutions to rest some key stars. Cuba led 8-6, before Italy came back with Tiziano Mazzone to lead 16-15. The Cuban team aggressively won the set 27-25 after a hard fought in blocking to draw 2-2.
Italy team lost their temper, while the Cuban players' motivations increased to dominate the tiebreak completely with Uriarte doing fantastic job as Cuba went to 15-9 win.