Azerbaijan advance to second phase with 3-1 win over Cuba


Cuba's Melissa Teresa Vargas Abreu spikes

Bari, Italy, September 28, 2014 – Azerbaijan qualified for the second round of the 2014 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship after beating Cuba 3-1 (25-20, 25-27, 25-20, 25-22) Sunday morning in their last pool D match at Palaflorio.
With China playing Japan and Belgium taking on Puerto Rico later on Sunday, Azerbaijan have already secured a top four finish in pool D with seven points from three wins and two losses.
Key points:
· Cuba won their first set of the World Championship 2014.
· Polina Rahimova was the top scorer of the match (27 points), followed by Cuban Orta Alena Rojas (18) and Gonzalez Regla Gracia (16).
· Azerbaijan scored 12 block-points in the match, two more than Cuba.

Azerbaijan scored five straight points to reach 5-0. They improved the lead at 17-10 before three errors of Polina Rahimova narrowed the gap to 17-14. Ayshan Abdulazimova closed the set (25-20).

Cuba opened the second set in strong fashion (3-0) and held the lead at the second TTO thanks to an ace of their young star Melissa Vargas (16-11). Blocking Vargas' attacks, the Caucasians tied the scores at 21-all. Then the two sides traded point by point before a fast of Alena Rojas Ortas pulled one set back for Cuba at 27-25. This was the first set won by Cuba in five matches at the World Championship 2014.
Azerbaigian came back strongly at the start of the third set (3-0) but Cuba replied with their spikers to overtake the lead at 6-4. The battle continued to be intense in the middle part of the second set. After the second TTO, Azerbaijan produced lots of severe attacks to pull away at 22-17 and enlarged it to 24-17. Cuba withstood three set points, but Bayramova converted on the fourth to claim the set at 25-20.
The fourth set was also hotly contested. Gala's women started with far more intensity than the last (3-0). Cuba stretched their lead to six points (12-6) before Azerbaijan recovered to pull within 18-17. Three consecutive block-points brought Caucasians ahead at 21-20 and Bayramova finished things off (25-22).


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