Cuba stopped Korean superstar Kim Yeon-Koung in the final set with crucial blocks; the NORCECA side finished with 18 blocks in their 3-2 victory over the Asian squad.
The Cuban team effort prevailed over Kim Yeon-Koung’s 37-point performance in the intense five-set match. Five Cuban starters scored in double figures, with Heidy Margarita Rodriguez Lopez and Regla Rainierys Gracia Gonzalez scoring 22 and 17 points, respectively.
The Cubans had a sluggish start, while the Korean attackers led by Yeon-Koung were on target to get a 12-6 edge early in the first set. Cuba toughened up on defence that bridged the gap before the second technical timeout 15-14. Korea gave away their lead from their attack turnovers, while Cuba worked their way with excellent swings from the service and attack lines until they secured the set 25-22. Korea and Cuba fought closely in the second set, as there was balance of offence from both sides. Korea led 21-16 as they continued to nail their attacks, while Cuba started missing on their attempts. Korea clinched the second set 25-18, as Cuba could no longer create any upsurge.
Yeon-Koung continued to drill the Cuban defence in the third set that helped Korea get a two-point margin at the second technical timeout 16-14. After the break, Korea comfortably executed their plays to seize the third set 25-16. Cuba wiped out the Korean lead after trailing the Asian side in the fourth set, and then both sides hustled to gain edge late in the extended set. Yeon-Koung tried to put her team up in front at 28-27 but Cuba patiently turned around the situation and won 30-28.
Cuba made an astonishing performance when they tied the ballgame at 6-all, after they were down 0-5 at the start of the final set. The sudden drop on Korea’s attack game in the final stretch gave an opportunity for Cuba to make a powerful run. Korea suffered on two crucial attack blunders by Yeon-Koung that gave away the final two points to Cuba to clinch match victory 15-13.