Sporting a new lineup not used all season, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team lost a grueling five-set match to Cuba 22-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, 18-16 in the NORCECA Continental Championship gold medal match Saturday afternoon at Winnipeg, Canada.
Cuba, which broke a string of three consecutive NORCECA championships for the U.S., captured its 13th NORCECA gold medal in the 20 times the event has been contested. Both teams have met in the championship each of the last nine times of the bi-annual event. The U.S. was going for its sixth NORCECA title, but settled for its 11th silver medal.
Based on reaching the NORCECA championship match, both Cuba and Team USA claimed berths into the FIVB World Cup held Nov. 2-16 in Japan. The 12-team World Cup field includes the five continental champions, the four best Continental vice-champions based on the 2007 FIVB World Ranking, host country Japan and two wild cards as chosen by the FIVB and Japan Volleyball Association. The World Cup is the first 2008 Olympics qualifier with the top three teams earning an automatic bid.