Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Cubans prove too strong for Taiwan at volleyball meet

AFP , OSAKA, JAPAN

Cuba, three-time Olympic champions, outgunned underdog Taiwan 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 at the women's world volleyball championships yesterday in Nagoya. Germany defeated Puerto Rico 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 in Osaka.

"Taiwan's players concentrated very well, so I thought our serves would be the key to play well. I think our serves were the most important factor of the victory," said Cuba's coach Felipe Calderon.

Taiwan's captain Chen Shu-li (陳淑俐) said although the match was tough, playing against a powerhouse like Cuba was good experience.

"It's always difficult to play well against a tall team. Our block was not effective enough. We must improve our defense."

Meanwhile, Olympic silver medalists Russia and underdogs Serbia and Montenegro stretched their winning streak to seven straight.

The Russians, led by Lioubov Shashkova who hit 20 winners, defeated the Netherlands 25-17, 25-18, 25-16 in their match in Pool E in Osaka.

"We were able to concentrate really well and the team structure and teamwork came together very well. That's why we won," said Russian captain Natalia Safronova after the 62-minute match.

The Serbians, who earlier upset defending champions Italy and three-time world champions Cuba, continued their excellent run by beating European champions Poland 25-15, 25-22, 25-14 in Pool E in Nagoya.

Both the Russians and Serbia and Montenegro, who carried over three wins from the first stage, now have a 5-0 win-loss each for 10 points in the second stage. The championships are a round-robin competition.

Taiwan, Cuba and Germany have a 3-2 record, the Netherlands 2-3, Poland 1-4 ahead of winless Puerto Rico.

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