Tokyo, 15th November 2007 – With an outstanding match, the first one ever played by Taismary Aguero against her former team Cuba, Italy got enough points in the FIVB Women’s World Cup 2007 to be the first team to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. Then U.S.A. achieved the same goal in the next match played in Nagoya by beating Japan 3-0. Tomorrow three key matches will decide the podium and the third berth for Beijing.
Brazil produced an outstanding performance to demolish Serbia 3-0 in the first match of the day at Nippon Gaishi Hall on Thursday. Clearly motivated by their heavy loss to Italy the previous day, the South American champions sent shell-shocked Serbia spinning to a straight-sets defeat, 25-13, 25-14, 25-21. With the win, 2006 World Championship silver medallists Brazil improved their World Cup record to 8-2. The Serbs, who won bronze at the 2006 World Championships in Osaka, dropped to 7-3. Serbia's last match is against four-time World Cup winners and reigning NORCECA champions Cuba on Friday afternoon. Brazil will play Asian champions Japan in the last match of the competition on Friday evening. The Head Coach Zoran Terzic said: “I do not know really what happened today. I must look at this game one more time, or two or three, to see what happened. Maybe we played very bad but I think today Brazil played very, very good, especially in defence; of course in the other elements, but especially in defence. I think our attack is not so bad, but today it was like a cat playing with a mouse.”
Italy booked a place in the Beijing Olympic Games by recording their 10th straight win in the World Cup, beating Cuba 3-0 in the second match of the day. Playing without injured captain Lo Bianco but with former Cuba star Aguero in the line-up, the European champions came home 27-25, 25-19, 25-16 to guarantee a top-three finish with one match to go. Cuba, the reigning NORCECA champions who have won the World Cup four times, dropped to 7-3. Italy play the United States on Friday, while Cuba close their programme against Serbia in the first match of the day. “Italy played extremely well” said Cuban Captain Yumilka Ruiz. “That is all I can say about this game. Taismary Aguero? I had no special feeling. She is now a member of the Italy team.” For Aguero, who scored 12 points like teammate Del Core, was a very special day since she left Cuba in 2001. “It was difficult for me” she said in the mixed zone “and days ago I thought I was not really sure to play. But in your life you have to face some obstacles. I wanted the Olympic Games and I knew that at Beijing I could play against my former team. So better now than then. I had strange feelings, but I play for Italy. Winning this game was a very important step for me and for my team.”
The United States booked a place in the Beijing Olympic Games with a crushing defeat of Japan in the third match of the day at Nippon Gaishi Hall. Coming into the match with a World Cup win-loss record of 8-1, having been beaten by Serbia the previous evening, the Americans made no mistake against the host team, romping to a 25-17, 25-14, 25-20 victory. This improved their record to 9-1, moving them ahead of Brazil (8-2) into second place behind Italy (10-0) and assured of a podium finish. Asian champions Japan dropped to 6-4. The United States will play European champions Italy in their last match on Friday, while Japan will close the competition against Brazil. For Jenny Lang Ping, a former Chinese Volleyball star and now Head Coach of U.S.A., Beijing will be the third Olympic Games (1984 as a player, 1996 as China Coach): “For athletes and coaches the Olympic Games is a dream. I have been there as a player and a coach. Also, Beijing is my hometown, and I feel like I am going home, with the USA Volleyball family. Hopefully we will have a great performance there. I am a Chinese, and I believe the people will be very, very proud of me bringing another team to the Olympic Games. Only when we play against China will they cheer for China, but second I believe they will cheer for us.”
The Dominican Republic picked up their second win of the World Cup with a steady 25-19, 25-16, 25-18 victory over Kenya at Komaki Park Arena on Thursday. Bethania De La Cruz led the Dominicans with 20 points and was well supported by teammates Sidarka Nunez (15 points) and Cosiri Rodriguez (13). Kenya's leading scorer was Dorcas Ndasaba with 11 points. Dominican Republic Head Coach Beato Miguel Cruz had a target in mind: “Today, this win really helps us to reaching our goal (finishing in ninth place). We've been slow in moving toward this goal, but this win helps us. Tomorrow, the match against Peru is very important. Today, I am satisfied, but not 100%. I was not happy with our setter today and so we couldn't keep our rhythm or play to our system. Tomorrow will be a tough match and we must win. If the setter cannot improve, it will be a really tough match.”
Thailand put on a great display of Volleyball to down Peru 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 and pick up their second win of the World Cup at Komaki. Thailand were hoping to capitalize on their first win -- against Kenya on Wednesday -- while Peru were also hoping for their second victory. Thai setter Nootsara Tomkom has been impressive in the tournament and despite their lack of height, the Thai spiking - and even blocking - has been excellent. Tomkom again performed brilliantly, but she was ably supported by her energetic teammates. Pleumjit Thinkaow was named the Most Impressive Player after collecting two service points, four blocks and 10 spikes. But four other Thai players reached double figures: Saymai Paladsrichuay, Onuma Sittirak, Wilavan Apinyapong and Amporn Hyapha. Peru has suffered from a young and inexperienced team, but they have grown during the tournament, especially 17-year-old setter Zoyla La Rosa. Milagros Moy has been in dominating form, but the pair need support - and consistency - from their teammates. “I'm so glad we could get the win today” said Thailand Captain Wilavan Apinyapong. “We decreased the number of errors we committed and that's why everything seems to be perfect today. We could play at our best.”
Poland had to dig deep to overcome South Korea 3-1 at Komaki Park Arena on Thursday, but they worked hard for a 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19 victory. Both teams were coming off three-set victories in their first games of the fourth round -- South Korea over Peru and Poland over the Dominican Republic -- but Poland had a 4-5 record compared to 3-6 for South Korea and certainly had impressed in several of their matches. “We weren't able to practice well or prepare well for this World Cup, but as time has passed, we got into a better condition and it was good for the younger players, especially Bae Yoo Na and Kim Yeon Koung. But not just these two; this World Cup has been a good experience for all the young players” said Korea Captain Kim Sa Nee.
The Women’s World Cup 2007 will end tomorrow (Friday) in Nagoya, in Nippon Gaishi Hall (Venue A) and Park Arena Komaki (Venue B). The last matches will decide the podium: the first three teams in the ranking will go to Beijing.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (4TH ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time
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 2nd DAY, 4th ROUND
Italy 20; U.S.A. 19; Brazil 18; Cuba and Serbia 17; Japan 16; Poland 15; Korea 13; Thailand and Dominican Republic 12; Peru 11; Kenya 10 (2 points for victory, 1 for loss).