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Cuban Rally Thwarted as Russians Hang On

September 27, 2000|Times Wire Services

A sensational comeback by the Cubans was undone by one of the mental mistakes for which they have become known.

Angel Dennis, the most talented hitter on a team loaded with fine athletes, sent his jump serve straight into the net, giving Russia a dramatic 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13 men's volleyball victory today at Sydney and a spot in the semifinals.

Russia will play the Brazil-Argentina winner in Friday's first semifinal.

In the other quarterfinals, underdog Australia played tournament favorite Italy, and defending Olympic champion the Netherlands took on Yugoslavia.

Russia had an 8-3 lead in the fifth game, with the winner needing to reach 15 points and win by two. Cuba came back to take an 11-10 lead with strong blocking, and after Russia surged ahead, 14-11, the Cubans rallied once more to get within 14-13.

The drama ended quickly, however, as Dennis hit the ball off the lower part of his palm and into the midsection of the net. He sank to his knees, his head in his hands. Teammate Alan Roca helped him up and took him toward the net for the congratulatory handshaking with the Russians, but Dennis was inconsolable, keeping his hands to his face.

In the women's consolation playoffs, Germany will play China for fifth place after Germany defeated Croatia, 27-25, 27-29, 25-21, 25-18, and China rallied to beat South Korea, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19, today.

Croatia will play South Korea for eighth.

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