Olli-Pekka Ojansivu was his team's best scorer and one of the main servers of a 3-1 defeat over Cuba
Osaka, Japan, June 19, 2016 - Finland takes a temporary lead in Osaka as the team takes its second victorious match, defeating Cuba 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23) on the last day of the World League Group 2 weekend in Japan. Finland's strong serve, especially from Olli-Pekka Ojansivu and Tommi Siirila gave Cubans a hard time at the passing line.
It's been 23 years since Cuba and Finland met at the World League. Their all four previous encounters happened back in 1993 with Cuba winning every one of them. But the teams have played against each other more recently when Finland took five sets to defeat Cuba at 2014 World Championship in Poland. Their matches on Saturday ended with a victorious tie break for both Finland and Cuba. Captain Rolando Cepeda took the leading role against Finnish team, scoring 22 points (19 in attack, 3 in block), while Olli-Pekka Ojansivu lead the winning side with 20 points, including impressive five aces.
Finland opened the match with a 8-6 lead at first TTO, while on Cuban's side captain Cepeda scored four points himself to stay close to the opponent. A couple of hard spikes down from Cuba's Sosa are not enough to tie as Finland held the edge at 11-8. A great service of Siirila gives Finnish team 16-12 which is quickly stretched to 18-12 after a TTO. An ace from Ojansivu gave the team first set point, used right away by Seppanen spiking for 25-18.
Odds turn in the second set when it is Cuba, who leads 8-6 at first TTO. The team went five up and Sosa's block on Krastins makes it 16-10 in no time. A time out called by Finland did not distract Cubans who end the set with confidence 25-15.
Pretty even start of the third set with finns edging 8-6. Lack of focus costed Cuba more and more points as Finland runs to 11-7, but Cubans regain the control levelling at 17-all. A few good action of captain Cepeda and his teammates give the team 22-20 lead, but Ojansivu strikes back taking the lead back for a set point. His another ace finished the set 25-23.
The last set started with yet another two-point gap at the first TTO. Finland maintains its great serving, troubling Cuban passers, as the advantage increases to 13-9. Cuba eventually calls a time out at 18-14 for their opponent, which seemed to pay off when they tie at 21-21. The match continues point by point until 23-23, but a block of Sinkkonen and ace of Siirila end the fourth set 25-23.