Tokyo, 4th November 2007 – The FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007 will leave this night the cities of Tokyo and Hamamatsu. Tomorrow’s another day, and the Head Coaches will hold their press conference at 18:30 hrs in Osaka and Sendai to introduce the 2nd Round. The 1st Round saw Italy (9-0 sets-record), Brazil, Serbia and U.S.A. leading with no loss.
The last day of games in Tokyo started with Dominican Republic: they won their first match of the FIVB World Cup 2007, beating Thailand 3-2 on Sunday. The Dominicans took the first two sets, but eventually won the match on their second match point. The score was 25-14, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 17-15, and improved their win-loss record to 1-2. The Thais, playing in their first World Cup, missed one match point in the tie break and dropped to 0-3 in the standings. Head Coach of Thailand Nataphon Srisamutnak said “we made many errors against simple balls, so we must correct our play against taller teams like the Dominican Republic and the Europeans. It was a good experience for us.”
European champions Italy swept to a straight-sets victory over Korea. Ranked fourth in the world, the Italians were in a different league to the 11th-ranked Koreans, who had qualified for the World Cup by finishing fourth in the Asian Championship in Thailand. Italy won 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 to improve their win-loss record to 3-0. Korea dropped to 0-3. “Our first aim was to win the first three matches, so I am satisfied to have achieved that for 3-0” said Massimo Barbolini, the Italian Head Coach.
Serbia avenged their defeat to Japan in last year's World Championship by winning an epic encounter 3-1 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday. The Serbs won the first two sets before Japan came back strongly and looked certain to force a tiebreak, only for Serbia to regroup just in time and win the fourth set on their second match point. With the victory of Serbia by 25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 26-24, Japan will leave Tokyo with a record dropped to 2-1. Japan had beaten the former Serbia-Montenegro 3-2 in the World Championship last year before the Serbs went on to win the bronze medal. “I am not guilty because I was on the bench the moment we won” smiled Serbian Captain Vesna Citakovic, holding up her hands and joking with Japanese journalists during the press conference. “We were a little bit cold and stopped to play like before in the third set. In the fourth set, our team showed unbelievable power. Young players can come from the bench and put their heart on the court and play for the whole team. This victory is for two players in particular, Veljkovic and Nesovic, but also the whole team.”
The last day of the 1st Round in Hamamatsu began with Peru facing Kenya. Peru finally found some of the form they had been looking for in the World Cup when they overcame a ragged Kenya team 25-16, 25-9, 25-19. “I hope when we go to Sendai, even though there are strong teams there, we can improve our reception” said Head Coach Sammy Kirongo from Kenya. “If we can't receive, we will always have problems. So, we need to do better on reception, the movement of players and blocking, as well as picking up balls from the back of defence.”
Brazil had to pull all the stops out as they faced rivals Cuba in a spectacular five set win on Sunday. Brazil edged the Cubans 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-11 in an out-and-out thriller. After a four-set battle, Brazil stayed ahead from the first point of the tiebreaker while Ruiz almost singlehandedly kept Cuba's hopes alive. But a mammoth strike by Pequeno and two superb serves from Jaqueline that the Cubans couldn't handle gave Brazil a four-point cushion. This went to five after a brilliant block by Walewska. Cuba wasn't helped by wide serves from Carcaces and Carrillo, the latter handing Brazil matchpoint. Jaqueline finished off the match with a gentle push shot that Cuba couldn't return, sending the yellow and green-clad fans into delirium. “It's always hard when we play Cuba – stated Brazilian Head Coach Zé Roberto. “Both teams serve very well but today we were a bit luckier and took eight points on service to Cuba's four. But they were better than us in blocking. In the tie break, we also got lucky as Cuba made serving errors, in effect giving us points for free. I think we are lucky; Cuba is one of the best teams in the world, so beating them is fantastic.”
The United States fought a tight battle with Poland and emerged triumphant in four sets on Sunday. The U.S. won 25-21, 12-25, 27-25, 25-17. “Our team made a good adjustment, we played well as a team and concentrated. We didn't get together for a long time, but the players know we have to communicate well and do better as a team, so I think we did a pretty good job in the last two matches. I'm happy for the players.”
The 2nd Round matches will start on the 6th November. The teams will travel tomorrow, 5th November, to reach the new venues in Osaka and Sendai. This Round will last 2 days.
STANDINGS AFTER 1st ROUND
Italy, Brazil, Serbia and U.S.A. 6 points; Japan 5; Cuba, Poland, Peru and Dominican Republic 4; Thailand, Korea and Kenya 3.
(2 points for victory, 1 for loss)
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI: THE THAI SHOW
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 will be the player Thinkaow Pleumjit from Thailand.