Bendigo, Australia, June 5, 2016 - Cuba earned its second win of the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix after beating Colombia 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-21), with Lescay Cajigel outstanding at the net.
It was a strong finish for Cuba, easily the youngest team in Bendigo, while Colombia continued to show many positives but struggled with consistency.
Although Heidy Rodriquez Lopez led the offensive line with 26 points it was Cajigel's impressive blocking performance that led Cuba to victory, their second of the weekend. Seven blocks from 11 attempts equalled the FIVb Volleyball World Grand Prix 2016 record set on the opening day by Candida Estefany Arias Perez of Dominican Republic against Bulgaria.
The Cubans looked weary but although kept in touch with the Colombians, was always on the catch-up in the opening set.
Colombia’s Madelaynne Montano was doing much of the heavy lifting, while Zuleta Garcia was proving to be difficult to pass at the net. Cuba was without 16-year-old Melissa Vargas with a shoulder injury, and it was Rodriguez Lopez who stepped up to the plate, but Colombia had more spring in their step and had answers to all the Cuban attacks.
Cuban coach Roberto Garcia gave his players a spray that the entire stadium could hear midway through the second set, and dragged players from the court for any errors. It had the desired effect, with Cuba suddenly lifting a gear and taking control. Rodriguez, who had been an early star for Cuba, was one the players to feel the wrath of coach Garcia.
Garcia re-introduced Rodriguez late in the second set, and she played inspired volleyball to help level the match 1-1. It was Colombia who looked tired in the third set, Lescay and Rodriguez continuing to wreak havoc on Colombia. Lescay continued to collect blocks, and Colombia could not put pressure on their opponents.
Cuban captain Matienzo Linares has proved herself to be very important at pressure times in matches, and it was the case again in the later stages of the third set when the game needed to be closed out. The same problems continued to bedevil the Colombians in the fourth set, a lack of consistency and soft points taking much of the pressure off the young Cubans.Related information:
Outside spikers Kenny and Madelaynne were having trouble exerting any influence, with the powerful Cuban wall taking most of the sting out of their attacks. And when the set was up for grabs, it was the Colombians who could not apply the pressure.