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U.S. suffers 1st loss, to Cuba in five sets

The upstart U.S. men's volleyball team came within one mistake Thursday of taking command of its pool in the volleyball tournament.

Leading Cuba 16-15 in the decisive fifth set, the Americans served for the match.

A win would have put the United States atop Pool A with a 3-0 record, one game ahead of perennial rival Cuba and two ahead of heavily favored Brazil.

Instead, the U.S. team squandered the chance. Cuba tied the set at 16 on Osvaldo Hernandez's kill. The Cubans won the match on consecutive points when Mike Lambert's spike sailed long and Bryan Ivie's spike hit the out-of-bounds marker.

The final point gave Cuba a 3-2 win (4-15, 15-9, 14-16, 15-8, 18-16).

With the United States leading two sets to one and trailing 6-5 in the fourth, Cuba ran off eight straight points to take a 14-5 lead, en route to tying the match at two sets apiece.

"We had a lot of chances to put them away and we didn't," U.S. coach Fred Sturm said. "We served well, then we didn't serve well. We wanted to stay aggressive. We're the type team that just doesn't want to keep the ball in play."

Cuba is 3-0 in pool play; the United States is 2-1; Brazil improved to 2-2 after defeating winless Poland 15-7, 15-11, 15-8.

In other Pool A play, Argentina rebounded from a loss to the United States by beating Bulgaria 3-1, enhancing its chances of finishing third in Pool A.

Argentina won 15-10, 15-8, 11-15, 15-10 to improve to 2-1.

In Pool B action, Italy remained undefeated beating the Netherlands 15-8, 15-8, 15-13. The Dutch fell to 2-1. Yugoslavia beat Tunisia 15-4, 15-17, 15-3, 15-3.