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Cuba Wins Volleyball Gold

By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, August 3, 1996 5:12 pm EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- Showing its skill, not its trash-talking, Cuba became the second country to win consecutive Olympic women's volleyball gold medals when it beat China in four sets Saturday.

Led by incomparable hitter Mireya Luis and blockers Magalys Carvajal and Ana Ibis Fernandez, the Cubans won 14-16, 15-12, 17-16, 15-6.

The former Soviet Union was the only other country to win consecutive Olympic titles, in 1968 and 1972. Cuba beat the Unified Team for the gold medal at Barcelona in 1992.

With the exception of two yellow cards for arguing calls, the Cubans were well-behaved. Their yapping and gesturing in a semifinal win over rival Brazil on Thursday led to two post-match shoving incidents and an alleged locker room altercation.

Ruben Acosta, president of the international federation, met with the Cubans before the title match to tell them to cool the insults.

The Cubans took over the close match by dominating at the net. With the score tied one set apiece, Cuba fought off set point five times in the third and won it when Regla Bell hit the ball off a Chinese blocker.

Cuba jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fourth set and closed it out with two kills by Bell. The players mobbed each other, then ran off the court waving two Cuban flags.

Earlier this year, following a tour with the U.S. women's team, the Cubans were stranded in the United States after President Clinton canceled direct flights to Cuba when two aircraft carrying four Cuban-American exiles were shot down.

China was trying to clinch its second Olympic gold medal on U.S. soil. With Lang Ping as their captain, the Chinese beat the United States in the final at Los Angeles in 1984. Lang took over as China's coach in February 1995 and has led the program back to respectability.

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

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