Sana Anarkulova (3) scored 17 points for Kazakhstan in their 3-2 win over Cuba
Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan, June 28, 2015 – Sana Anarkulova sizzled with 17 points in the nail-biting five-setter, where Kazakhstan prevailed over Cuba 3-2 (25-16, 12-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-13) in Pool N of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix at the Zhastar Sports Palace on Sunday.
Anarkulova had 14 attacks, two blocks and an ace to lead the home team in their undefeated run in the group. Cuba’s Melissa Vargas and Sulian Matienzo topped the other scorers with 23 and 18 points, respectively.
Kazakhstan displayed its tenacity early in the first set, serving five aces that punctured the Cuban reception. Yekaterina Zhdanova led the Kazakh side as she scored seven points, three of which were service aces. The Cubans were held to score a minimum as Kazakhstan powered their way to end the set 25-16.
Vargas and Jennifer Alvarez operated the Cuban offence, which built a sizeable lead for the visiting side in the second set. At the second technical timeout, Cuba already doubled their lead over the home team 16-7. Sulian Matienzo joined Vargas and Alvarez in an attack rampage that held Kazakhstan to score five more points before the visitors seized the second set 25-12.
Kazakhstan jumped to a 5-1 lead but Vargas responded with some strong swings from the flank that forced Kazakhstan to call a timeout at 6-5. Vargas’ backrow swings deadlocked the score at 8-all and 9-all, and then a couple of plays later, Alena Rojas made back-to-back blocks to snatch the lead from the hosts 14-11. Kazakhstan bounced back and took advantage of the Cuban errors to get a 2-1 set-advantage at 26-25.
Both teams fought closely in the fourth set and neither gave up more than a three-point cushion until Cuba reached the end of the set with a 25-21 win to extend the match to a tiebreaker.
Kazakhstan had a 4-0 run in the tie-break, forcing Cuba to make a substitution. Cuba then scored three consecutive points but Kazakhstan raced to a 9-4 lead thereafter. Cuba cut down the lead but an attack error from Vargas allowed Kazakhstan to maintain their lead 11-8. Cuba got another break and tied the score at 11-all. However, they were not able to sustain the intensity in the end game as Kazakhstan scored the final two points to secure the match 15-13.
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