Tokyo, 7th November 2007 – The hunt for three Olympic berths still goes on in Japan. The FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007 is leaving Osaka and Sendai. Tomorrow will be a rest day, and on Friday the teams will play in Sapporo and Kumamoto the 3rd Round. The big match today was U.S.A. against Brazil and the tie break gave the first standing to the Americans, thanks to a great comeback (2-0 for Brazil) and an amazing tie break. The United States now are leading the World Cup standings together with the other unbeaten team, Italy.
Osaka proved to be a happy hunting ground for Korea, who won their second straight match on Wednesday, 3-0 against Thailand. After losing all three games in Tokyo, the 11th-ranked Koreans have bounced back to improve their win-loss record to 2-3 thanks to a straight-sets victory over their regional rivals, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21. World No. 30 Thailand, who had finished third to Korea's fourth in the recent Asian Championship on home soil, dropped to 0-5 on their World Cup debut. Korean Captain Kim Sa-Nee: “We had the experience of playing Thailand in the Asian Championship recently and we lost, so we were determined to beat them this time. We had a good block and that was a key to our victory.”
It was business as usual for Serbia on Wednesday as they brushed aside wild card Dominican Republic 3-0 at Namihaya Dome. After their 3-2 defeat to Italy the previous day, the Serbs returned to winning ways with a straightforward 25-22, 25-14, 25-23 victory over the disappointing Dominicans. The 2006 World Championship bronze medallists improved their win-loss record to 4-1, while dropping the Norceca zone team to 1-4, before they move on to the next phase. Dominican Team Captain Cosiri Rodriguez shakes her long hair: “From the beginning we knew it would be difficult because we lost yesterday and a kind of bad spirit was still hanging over us. But we tried our best and in the third set the young players did a very good job, but unfortunately we could not win.”
It was a contest between the champions of Asia and the champions of Europe -- but on the night it was no contest at all. Impressive Italy demolished jittery Japan 25-18, 25-19, 25-14 and will head for the third phase of the World Cup with a perfect 5-0 win-loss record. Japan, playing in front of 8,000 fans, slipped to 3-2. It was Italy's 12th straight win over Japan since Japan beat them in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Athens in Tokyo in May 2004. Head Coach Massimo Barbolini smiled to the Media: “I am really happy and satisfied about the match of my team because I think it is not easy to win in this way in Japan. I think for all the match we had a good rhythm, although in the second set there was one moment of difficulty in reception. After that we started to play very well again in the third set. I am satisfied with these two matches in Osaka and we know that in the second round we will have more difficulties.”
Poland had little trouble beating the winless Kenyans at Sendai City Gymnasium, running out 25-12, 25-10, 25-15 winners in the first game of the day. “I would like to congratulate the Kenyan team” said the Italian Head Coach of Poland, Marco Bonitta “who are facing a hard situation but continue to show great passion for Volleyball and are able to keep their concentration and enthusiasm when they are playing in a game. I think this is fantastic. Today, I didn't give my team any different instructions than usual; I just told them to do their best. Everything else, they should already know.”
Cuba overcame early resistance from Peru to overcome their South American rivals 29-27, 25-19, 25-13. Cuba improved its record to 3-2, while Peru dropped to 1-4. With Peru languishing in 10th position in the standings and Cuba sporting a 2-2 record going into the match, both sides needed a win, and Cuba managed to catch it in the best way. Peru Captain Leyla Chihuan stated that “we started out the way we wanted to play and we thought we had a chance to win the match at one stage, but in face of this strong Cuban team we were unable to take advantage of the opportunities we got. We need to take this result as an experience and keep on improving our form in upcoming games and do the best we can.”
In a clash of two of the three unbeaten teams in the World Cup, the United States staged a fantastic comeback to edge Brazil 17-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-9 at Sendai Gymnasium. Brazil entered the match with 12 sets won and only two lost, while the U.S. had lost just one set more. Both had relatively easy fourth games in the tournament and could come into Wednesday's game refreshed. Sheilla Castro was brilliant as Brazil took a 2-0 sets lead, but Tayyiba Haneef-Park led a fantastic U.S. fight-back to set up the tiebreaker. Jenny Lang Ping, U.S.A. Head Coach, explains the key moment: “In the first two sets, we couldn't pass or hit. After the first two sets, I told my team: Brazil is a great team, but don't think about the result; you have to be relaxed to win, so take it one ball at a time. And I told them to play better Volleyball.”
The 3rd Round will start in Sapporo and Kumamoto Friday, 9th November. The 12 head coaches will meet the press in the teams’ hotels Thursday at 18.00 hrs.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (3RD ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time
Sapporo 09 Nov 14,05 05,05 Italy – Poland
Sapporo 09 Nov 16,35 07,35 Kenya – Serbia
Sapporo 09 Nov 19,30 10,30 Japan - Peru
Kumamoto 09 Nov 12,35 03,35 Brazil - Thailand
Kumamoto 09 Nov 15,05 06,05 Dominican Rep. – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 09 Nov 18,05 09,05 Cuba - Korea
Sapporo 10 Nov 14,05 05,05 Italy – Kenya
Sapporo 10 Nov 16,35 07,35 Peru – Serbia
Sapporo 10 Nov 19,30 10,30 Japan - Poland
Kumamoto 10 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba – Dominican Rep.
Kumamoto 10 Nov 15,05 06,05 Thailand – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 10 Nov 18,05 09,05 Brazil - Korea
Sapporo 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Italy – Peru
Sapporo 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Poland – Serbia
Sapporo 11 Nov 18,00 09,00 Japan - Kenya
Kumamoto 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba – Thailand
Kumamoto 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Korea – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 11 Nov 18,05 09,05 Brazil – Dominican Rep.
STANDINGS AFTER 5th COMPETITION DAY
Italy and U.S.A. 10; Brazil and Serbia 9; Cuba and Japan 8; Poland and Korea 7; Dominican Republic and Peru 6; Thailand and Kenya 5 (2 points for victory, 1 for loss).
MATCH DESCRIPTIONS, PRESS CONFERENCES, FREE PICTURES
The FIVB provides complete real time coverage of the event. Match descriptions, press conference reports and free pictures downloadable in high resolution for Media purpose are available from the home page of the FIVB website (www.fivb.org).
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI: SERBIAN STAR
Andrea Zorzi, the former Italian national Volleyball player and two times World Champion, is working on his special blog “Follow Me” from the FIVB website home page. New articles have been uploaded, explaining technical topics and big stories of the event. The last video appearing on the gallery is the one to one interview with Jelena Nikolic, Serbian spiker.