World silver-medalists Brazil edged heavyweights Cuba in a thrilling five-setter to remain unbeaten at the women's World Cup volleyball tournament yesterday.
Brazil prevailed 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-11 in 101 minutes for their third straight victory in the 12-team round robin, where three Olympic berths are up for grabs.
Brazil coach Jose Robert Guimaraes was delighted with the win over the Cubans, who have won the tournament four times.
"It's always hard whenever we play Cuba. Both teams serve very well but today we were a bit luckier and took eight points on serve to Cuba's four," he said. "We were also lucky in the final set, because they made some service errors to give us free points. I'm so happy to have won this game. Cuba are one of the best teams in the world, so beating them is fantastic."
Brazilian captain Helia Souza said the key to the victory, in Hamamatsu, central Japan, was concentration.
"It was a really difficult game, certainly the hardest of the last three days. We know each other very well, so we had to prepare for the game really well," Souza said.
Cuba's coach Antonio Perdomo was happy with his team's efforts despite their second defeat of the tournament.
"Unfortunately we lost this game, but I'm satisfied with what we did. All the players did their best," he said. "We are getting better and better and the level of our play is getting better. Both teams played at a high level, but we made more mistakes than they did today. That's why we lost."
In Tokyo, European champions Italy also remained unbeaten with a 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 win over South Korea.
Thailand were one point away from a historic win in their debut tournament before crashing to Dominican Republic 25-14, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 17-15.
"We did very well, but we made many errors against simple balls, so we must adjust our play against taller teams like them and the Europeans," Thai coach Nataphon Srisamutnak said.
"I was happy with the game, and satisfied with the content of the match," Thai captain Wilavan Apinyapong said. "We made some errors and were inaccurate, but as the game wore on we could control our play better."