The Polish Under-21 volleyball team defeated the Cuban team on Sunday (July 2), 3 sets to none (25-20, 25-10, 25-19), and took the gold medal in the world youth tournament, played in Brno, Czech Republic. The Poles had been world champions twice before, in 1997 and 2003.
By Sunday the Poles had won 48 consecutive matches. In the first phase of this tournament, they blanked Morocco, Czech Republic and Canada, all by 3 sets to none. In the second round they bested China (3-2), Cuba (3-0) and Iran (3-2). In the semifinals they beat Brazil (3-2).
In the final, the Poles were “definitely better than the Cubans, they controlled the course of each set,” reported the Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy [Sports Review]. In the second set, they gave away only 10 points.
“The Cubans took home a valuable silver medal, when very few analysts gave them a chance to reach the final,” reported Prensa Latina.
“The team, directed by Nicolás Vives, won five matches and lost three during the tournament,” the Cuban agency said. “Its most brilliant triumph came in the semifinal, when it beat the favorite team, Russia.”
In a game played in Brna earlier in the day, Russia defeated Brazil, 3 sets to none, and took the bronze medal (25-16, 25-16, 25-19). The most effective player in the match was Russian blocker Aleksei Kononov, who completed 7 of 10 attacks and made 6 blocks.
During the tournament, Russia lost only one of eight matches — the semifinal against Cuba (1-3), having previously defeated Cuba (3-0), Turkey (3-0), USA (3-0); Argentina (3-1), Canada (3-1) and Brazil (3-2).