For both of those teams semifinal was a quite easy practise before this last game.
First, USA stood against Cuba. During this edition of World League, Americans did not really do their best, so many experts expected Cuba to be on the podium. It went completely different.It was a good day for Clayton Stanley (17 points in total, 4 on service). He was also strongly supported by Matthew Anderson (13 points) and Sean Rooney (11 p.). Cuba didn’t give up easily. In the second set they had a little advantage, but they weren’t able to maintain it for too long. In their team, as usual, Wilfredo Leon was the leader in attack (16 points). Cuba got a lot of points by their opponent mistakes, but they could not use it to win at least one part. The last set was tough and Cuba was fighting as strong as they could, but the last action was a real misfortune for them. The main arbiter made a mistake and gave a point to Americans and from that moment they were the first finalist.
Alan Knipe, coach of USA: I believe it was a well-played match. When we play against Cuba, we always have close sets, so we expected it to be the same today. The good thing is we have a high hitting percentage and the players have done well in reception. The most important thing is that we used the ability to create opportunities in defense and turn them into points.
Matthew Anderson, USA player: It was a good match. We played pretty well and followed the match plan that we had prepared. Our defensive actions after Cuban blocks worked and we hit really well in transition which gave Cuba a hard time.
Orlando Samuels Blackwood, coach of Cuba: Our team played really well, especially in the beginning of each set. But in the end the fact that the team consists mostly of young players played its role – and we made a lot of unforced errors. It was a good match though.
Wilfredo Leon, captain of Cuba: Our play did not work today. We did not follow the game plan. I think the referees should be better prepared for matches like this one. Tomorrow we will go out onto the court strongly motivated to win the bronze medals.
The second match was also quick. Poland was a little nervous at the beginning, but by moving forward, they were getting more confident. However, it was not a good game after all. During those three sets, Bulgaria made 27 mistakes, when Poland gave their rival 20 “free” points. Andrea Anastasi made a change in the basic squad of Poland, by replacing Lukasz Zygadlo by Pawel Zagumny, who played well with Brazil earlier. However, this setter had some problems too. It was also a poor show of Zbigniew Bartman, so later Anastasi brought Jakub Jarosz on the court. On Bulgarian site Georgi Bratoev was not doing well. Bulgaria had a big heart to fight, but their skills were not developed enough to win this game. Poland advanced to the final of World League for the first time i history.
Andrea Anastasi, coach of Poland: I cannot hide the fact that I am very happy. Last season we won the bronze medal and now we are in the final. But tomorrow is another day and playing against the USA is always difficult. Nevertheless, we will try to win the gold medals.
Marcin Mozdzonek, captain of Poland: We are very happy with this victory. It is the first semifinal in the World League that we have won, so we are very excited and we cannot wait for tomorrow. It is a historical moment for all of us. We managed to stay concentrated. Although the Bulgarians served really well and despite the atmosphere in the hall, we handled the situation.
Nayden Naydenov, coach of Bulgaria: Today Poland definitely played better than us. I cannot deny that our team was doing its best, but for the moment this is the reality.
Vladimir Nikolov, captain of Bulgaria: Poland managed to play better and control the game. Therefore, they deserved to win. It is not the right moment to make the situation more complicated. Tomorrow we will play a match that we have to win, in order to look forward to the Olympics with more optimism.