Tokyo, 11th November 2007 – The venues in Sapporo and Kumamoto saw today the end of the 3rd Round of the Women’s World Cup 2007: the standings still have Italy and U.S.A. leading unbeaten. Two rest days will prepare the stage for the final round, the 4th in the World Cup Round Robin, which will be played from Wednesday in Nagoya.
Ruthless Italy romped to a straight-sets victory over Peru in the first match of the day at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre on Sunday. The European champions and world No. 4 outclassed the 18th-ranked South Americans 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 to head for the Nagoya climax with a perfect 8-0 win-loss record. Peru, who qualified for the World Cup as continental vice champions behind Brazil, dropped to 1-7. Italian Head Coach Massimo Barbolini was impassive as usual: “Probably today we have not played a very glittering match, but this was because of the good serve and defence of Peru in the second and third sets. In the end we won with good points, so we have to be happy to finish the third round undefeated.”
Poland derailed Serbia's drive to Beijing with a stunning 3-2 upset on Sunday afternoon. The Poles improved their win-loss record to 3-5 with a 24-26, 25-23, 25-12, 19-25, 15-10 victory, dropping Serbia to 6-2 with three tough matches to come. Poland, a wild card here and world No.10, also had the player of the match in Anna Podolec, who destroyed the defence of the 2006 World Championship bronze medallists with a display of relentless power and precision. It was the first match coached by Mauro Masacci, since Marco Bonitta flew back to Italy for family problems. “I think it was a very good match for both teams” said Polish Captain Milena Rosner. “Our team played very good in serve and block at many moments. Sometimes the match looked like men’s volleyball with very hard hits and attacks. I want to say that this match is a present for our coach (Bonitta). He is travelling home and we are with Marco now. We are with him with our whole heart.”
Japan completed a Sapporo sweep, adding Kenya to the World Cup scalps of Peru and Poland in the third phase. The World Cup hosts will head to Nagoya for the final phase with a 6-2 win-loss record after a routine 25-14, 25-12, 25-8 victory. The reigning Asian champions, ranked seventh in the world, were too slick and too quick for the 18th-ranked African champs, and dropped Kenya to 0-8 with three matches remaining. Head Coach Shoichi Yanagimoto: “We had a good match yesterday, and if we had not won these three games in Sapporo there would be no meaning in Nagoya. So I was really glad to be able to win the three matches in a row. I was able to get the result I was hoping for. The level of our opponent was lower today, so it was important not to lose our concentration. Now we can go to Nagoya with a good feeling.”
In Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium, Thailand continued with their impressive Volleyball at the World Cup, but once again were outmatched as they faced the powerful Cuban team. Cuba finally overcame the brave Thais, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-13. Thailand's hopes of gaining points against Cuba revolved around speed. Thai setter Nootsara Tomkom was ranked sixth best in the tournament before the game and she has provided excellent service to her main hitters, who can arrive from any angle. Thailand also had two receivers in the World Cup's Top Ten list: Wilavan Apinyapong and Wanna Buakaew, who was also ranked ninth-best libero. Thailand Captain Wilavan Apinyapong: “I'm quite satisfied with the team's performance today because we had good serving in the first few sets. But in the last set and before the last set Cuba served strongly and that caused us problems. Cuba received the ball well and that was the key.”
The United States continued their unbeaten run in the World Cup with a 3-0 victory over South Korea. The Americans won 25-21, 25-19, 25-23, with Logan Tom leading the scoring with 19 points. Despite losing in three sets to Brazil on Saturday, South Korea have shown enough talent - particularly in taking Cuba to five sets on Friday - to worry any team in the competition. And unlike Thailand, whom the U.S. beat on Saturday, the Koreans have enough tall players to mount effective blocks - Bae Yoo Na and Kim Se Young having 14 each going into this game. Tayyiba Haneef-Park, the U.S.A. opposite spiker, said to the press that “Korea played very well and they had a good defense. We were able to win because of our serving and passing. We served much better than in the past few days, which took them out of their rhythm and they couldn't run as many combinations as usual. But it was still a tough match for us.”
Brazil had no problems securing their seventh victory of the World Cup as they routed the Dominican Republic 25-16, 25-12, 25-14. The Dominicans dropped to 1-7. Brazil came into the match on the back of two 3-0 victories (over Thailand and South Korea) and were favorites to beat the Dominican Republic, who had only one win (against Thailand) prior to this match. The Brazilians had the advantage of being in good condition and with a well-tested squad, but as Head Coach Ze Roberto reminded the media, they couldn't afford to lose any more matches. From Dominican Republic side, the situation was different. Captain Cosiri Rodriguez: “In one word, today was a disaster. Brazil is a great team, but we handed them so many points with the errors we made. The blocking of Brazil was fantastic and their defense was also great. We really must try harder next time.”
The 4th Round of the Women’s World Cup 2007 will start Wednesday 14th November in Nagoya. Three days of competition, 18 matches overall, will take place in Nagoya: Nippon Gaishi Hall (Venue A) and Park Arena Komaki (Venue B). The event will end on the 16th with the last match: the first three teams in the ranking will go to Beijing.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (4TH ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time
Nagoya (A) 14 Nov 14,05 05,05 Brazil - Italy
Nagoya (A) 14 Nov 16,35 07,35 Serbia – U.S.A.
Nagoya (A) 14 Nov 19,30 10,30 Japan - Cuba
Nagoya (B) 14 Nov 12,35 03,35 Kenya - Thailand
Nagoya (B) 14 Nov 15,05 06,05 Dominican Rep. - Poland
Nagoya (B) 14 Nov 18,05 09,05 Korea – Peru
Nagoya (A) 15 Nov 12,35 03,35 Brazil - Serbia
Nagoya (A) 15 Nov 15,05 06,05 Cuba - Italy
Nagoya (A) 15 Nov 18,00 09,00 Japan – U.S.A.
Nagoya (B) 15 Nov 12,35 03,35 Dominican Rep. - Kenya
Nagoya (B) 15 Nov 15,05 06,05 Peru - Thailand
Nagoya (B) 15 Nov 18,05 09,05 Korea - Poland
Nagoya (A) 16 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba - Serbia
Nagoya (A) 16 Nov 15,05 06,05 Italy – U.S.A.
Nagoya (A) 16 Nov 18,00 09,00 Japan – Brazil
Nagoya (B) 16 Nov 12,05 03,05 Dominican Rep. - Peru
Nagoya (B) 16 Nov 14,35 05,35 Poland - Thailand
Nagoya (B) 16 Nov 17,05 08,05 Kenya - Korea
STANDINGS AFTER THE 3rd ROUND
Italy and U.S.A. 16; Brazil 15; Serbia, Japan and Cuba 14; Poland 11; Korea 10; Dominican Republic and Peru 9; Thailand and Kenya 8 (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
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.
Michael Bradley Photography