NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand July 23rd
China, fresh enough to have a few tricks up their sleeve, amazed all spectators at the MCC Hall inside The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima by their particular power-and-speed style. Their combination of physical and coordination skills, tactical strategies, team spirit and self-control skills were the conquering weapons they utilized in the comfortable encounter against unfancied Egypt.
The Asian champions on Monday mercilessly crushed the two-time African winners in a lop-sided battle 25-18 25-14 25-10. The convincing victory enhanced the China’s chances of topping Group A despite the fact that they still have one more match against the USA in the round-robin preliminaries on Tuesday.
Thailand also made light of the tough match against Germany when they came from behind to beat Germany 3-1 (20-25 25-23 25-22 25-19) in the hard-fought encounter.
In a display somewhere near their best, the host side spiked, blocked and boosted, using their home crowd advantage. Although Germany intentionally put up with the Thailand’s spectacular spikes, their determined challenge wilted and they eventually lost the tense encounter.
The Polish-born John Banachowski, head coach of the USA, still keeps his promise to steer his team to the semi-finals. The Norceca champions USA, who finished a disappointing 11th in the previous episode in Turkey two years ago, proved on Monday that their glittering performance to beat Thailand in straight sets in the previous match was no fluke. They thrashed Dominican Republic in a totally lop-sided battle 25-16 25-11 25-12.
Meanwhile, in-form Japan also brightened up their chances of making it to the semi-finals this time after they registered their third victory by brushing off Puerto Rico in dramatic four sets 25-21 23-25 25-13 25-18.
The match between Brazil and Italy was expected to be a clash of titans.
However, to everyone’s amazement, the defending and successive three-time world champions beat Italy with ease, storming past the European champions in straight sets 25-14 25-19 25-13.
Earlier, determined Ukraine were in brilliant form when they produced a scintillating come-from-behind 3-2 (16-25 25-16 21-25 25-16 17-15) victory over Croatia.
On Tuesday, the final day of the group round-robin preliminary round, Japan confront Croatia, Puerto Rico take on defending and successive three-time champions Brazil and Ukraine challenge Italy at the Chalerm Phrakiart Gymnasium, while Egypt play Germany, Thailand go up against Dominican Republic and the USA test their mettle against a fired-up China at the MCC Hall.
Fourth is no good enough