Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Las Morenas del Caribe 2

One thing that distinguishes the Cuban team is their use of the the 6-2 system.  As opposed to the standard 5-1 system which uses one full-time setter and 5 hitters, the 6-2 employs two setters and 6 hitters.  Both setters are diagonal to each other; whoever is at the back acts as the primary setter, while the one in front acts as a hitter.  Once the setter at the back rotates upfront, he or she becomes the an attacker, and the opposite who has now rotated to the back becomes the primary setter.  What makes up for the stilted setting is the fact that at any given time, there will always be 3 attackers in front of the net.  It is this system that the Cuba has perfected, turning the setters into ferocious hitters at the expense of unimaginative and predictable setting decisions.

Lilian Izquierdo (lower right) and Marlenys Costa (upper right), along with Tanya Ortiz, Raisa O'Farill, were the setter-hitters of Cuba during the early to mid- 90's.  With the arrival of Taimarys Aguero post-Atlanta Olympics, she and Costa became the deadly duo opposite each other until the Sydney Olympics.  In 1997, Cuba experimented with running a 5-1 system with Aguero as the full-time setter. But after a year, it was dropped and they returned to the usual 6-2 formation.

The overall key of the Cuban squad in dominating the  90's international volleyball scene was mostly based on the sheer physical strength and prodigious athleticism. It was not uncommon to see them pound the ball over the tallest blocks.  In the late 90's they even added the back-row hit to their arsenal of weapons, further opening up the attacking options for the setter.  But in their reliance on offense to rake up points, they left their serve reception much to be desired.  In a lot of instances, one would see the setter scurrying all over the court just to get her hands on a badly received ball.  But in the times that they got they reception working, you could very well expect them to slam a cross-curt or down the line kill for a point or sideout.

Regla Torres on the left, and Magaly Carvajal on the upper right, and Ana Ibis Fernadez on the lower right, were trio of who manned the middle positions in the 90's.  At 17, Torres was the youngest female volleyball player to have ever won a gold medal at the Olympics, and was awarded the greatest volleyball player of the 20th century by the Volleyball Hall of Fame.  Carvajal, along with Bell, were the youngsters that started out in the squad when it won the gold in the 1989 World Cup.  She was the deadly middle blocker of the team until the Atlanta Olympics, after which she retired and pursued professional volleyball in Spain.  Fernandez took over Carvajal's position and remained until the Sydney Olympics, making a brief comeback in 2004 as a substitute player for the Athens Olympics.

Most of the starting line-up retired after the 2000 Olympics.  Ruiz stayed on the team, but she never experienced the same triumphs as she did during the 90's.  Even if the younger players who took over still had the same physical abilities as their predecessors, their receiving and digging skills all the more deteriorated.  They got the bronze in the 2004 Olympics, and 4th place at the recent Beijing Olympics.  With the retirement of Ruiz and Barros (who was a reserve middle blocker in the 90's, and eventually became a starter when Torres and Fernandez left), the Cuban squad is in another phase of rebuilding.  It remains to be seen if they will ever attain the level that the 90's team shown.  However, the Cubans will always be remembered as having achieved the unprecedented feat of winning the gold for three consecutive Olympics (1992, 1996, and 2000), as well as the four consecutive golds at the World Cup (1989, 1991, 1995, and 1999) and two consecutive golds (1994 and 1998) at the World Championships.

A touching postscript to two once fierce-rivals.  Regla Bell is currently playing in a Brazilian club, and in this video, she meets up with the great Ana Mosser.  Together, they share a good laugh at watching their infamous brawls at the 1996 Olympics and Grand Prix.


  1. isa lang ang masasabi ko sa mga yan


    ahahaha, palagi akong nanunuod sa rpn 9 kapag may world volleyball championship kasi ang galing nila

    (reax ko sa comment mo. siguro nakakasalubong na kita nuon, hindi ko lang alam na ikaw yun. nanlalambot ang tuhod ko sa tuwing naririnig ko ang tinig ni reuben laurente. si kuya lionel naman ay kapatid ng naging kaklase ko...ang kaniyang equally talented na bunsong kapatid na si issa)

    huwag mo sanang mamasamain, subalit akoy nagagalak na mayruon pa palang nakauunawa sa ganiyang musika. akala ko, yaon lamang mga tulad ni ted schmidt ng queer as folk

    minsan, sulat ka naman ng ukol sa iyong buhay musika

    (hahaha, demanding ba?!biro lang.alam kong malayo iyon sa imahe ng iyong blog)


  2. Anteros: backtrack ka lan sa mga posts ko. may mga sinulat ako about it na ;)

  3. grabe, addicted ka talaga sa volleyball ano?

    never got into that sport, walang direksyon mga tira ko. =)

  4. nakakamiss sila. fav ko talaga cuban team. sarap pala balikan hehe

  5. got to love these cuban girls. grabe sa galing.

    another wonderful post from you since mukhang hopeless ang volleyball scene dito saten.

    start na ngayon ng world grand champion's cup, men's edition.

    salamat sa post!

    alam mo ba kung nasan ngayon si ricardo ng brazil?

  6. Xtian: ay uu naman. di ako nangsasawa manood ng mga matches nila. marami akong videos dito sa bahay. nood tayo? :D

    Charl: re local scene, yeah, the last kinda decent batches were the ones nila barina et al pa :(

    i have no idea where ricardo is? di ko masyado nasusubaybayan ang international men's. mas nakatutok talaga ako sa women's.

  7. talaga?! pahiram naman ako pls. haha varsity ako from elemtary hanggang college pero ngayon hindi na ako marunong maglaro, promise haha

  8. Xtian: asus. once you know how to play, you can konting tune-up, ayus na yan ;)

    anong position mo? 69? helicopter? victory joe?

    aaaay. mali, mali! ibang positions pala yun hahahhaha

    sure, sure, bigyan kita copies :D

  9. yehey! position? halika pakita ko sayo lol

  10. Xtian: isa kang harot. promise!


    uy, sinagot ko na a. check mo :D