Cuba entered into the Olympic qualification zone

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, May 23, 2024.- Cuba entered the Volleyball Nations League 2024 intending to qualify for the Paris Olympics and, after just two matches in Rio de Janeiro, they’re already inside the qualification zone for the event. That was possible thanks to a combination of a Cuban victory over Germany and a Serbian setback against Japan, on Thursday.

Following up on a four-set victory over Brazil on Tuesday, the Caribbean had another strong performance at the Maracanãzinho stadium, topping Germany 3-1 (26-24, 25-20, 18-25, 25-23) in the first match of the day.

The result gave the Cubans 7.18 points in the FIVB World Rankings, elevating their total to 256.85. That alone wasn’t enough for them to pass the Serbians, but that happened when the Europeans fell to Japan 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-22) later, dropping 5.38 points to go down to 252.85.

Now, Cuba are the fourth-best national team not yet qualified for Paris to appear in the World Rankings, behind Italy, who are fourth with 347.58, Slovenia, who are sixth with 314.95, and Argentina, who are seventh with 308.29.

Star outside hitters Marlon Yant and Miguel Ángel López rose again for the Cubans, combining to produce 39 points against the Germans. Yant, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with a victory on the court, had a team-high 21 points, with 17 kills, three blocks and one ace, while the team captain added 18, with 17 kills and one block.

“We came into this match with a positive attitude because we knew this was going to be a critical match for us,” middle blocker Robertlandy Simón commented. “It was a great win today, but now it’s time for us to focus on the next one. I wished Yant a happy birthday this morning, but we’re not having a party for him because our goal here is to qualify for the Olympics. Japan are a very difficult matchup for us and we’ll need to be very focused.”

Cuba will face Japan at 14:00 local time (17:00 GMT) in Rio on Friday.