Cool Cubans calm Copacabana crowd

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 7, 2016 - In the best match of the 19 Olympic Beach Volleyball match played so far with the most excitement from the fans in the “Coliseu on Copacabana”, Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez of Cuba out-lasted Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil in a three-set Pool D match.

With Pool D considered the toughest of the six men’s group with teams from Canada and Latvia filling the other two spots, Diaz and Gonzalez were never “rattled” in the 63-minute match in posting a 2-1 (24-22, 21-23, 15-13 win over Evandro and Pedro.  It was the second international match between the two teams as Evandro and Pedro defeated the Cubans in a three-set elimination match at last year’s FIVB World Championships in The Hague. 

With the near-capacity crowd favoring the hometown favorites, the Cubans silenced the Brazilian fans by winning the first set that was tied 17 times before a Gonzalez block and a Diaz ace won it for the team that qualified for the Rio Olympics by winning the NORCECA Continental Cup competition at the end of June in Mexico.

The second set was also “nip-and-tuck” with a total of 10 ties as the Brazilians had a five-point edge at 18-13 at one time.  Diaz and Gonzalez rallied tie the set at 20s and 21s before Evandro won it with a kill and service ace.  The decider was also nail-biting with 12 ties before the Cubans took the lead for good with a two-point run.  Plaguing the Brazilians down the stretch was hitting and serving errors.

Pool D play resumes Tuesday for both teams with Evandro and Pedro playing Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk of Canada while the Cubans challenge Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia, the top team on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour ranking list.


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