The FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 Final Round is starting to take shape with five of the six teams having claimed berths in the third phase that begins October 8 in Milan, Italy.
In Pool E, China won a battle of undefeated teams with a prolonged five-set win over Dominican Republic. Italy moved into the Final Round after winning the first two sets against Japan on Saturday night, then also punched Dominican Republic’s ticket by finishing off the Japanese in three sets.
Brazil (6-0, 17 points) earned the second berth into Final Round from Pool F after United States (6-0, 18 points) swept Serbia (4-2, 11 points), setting up their Sunday’s match with front-runner USA to decide the group winner. The winner of the world’s top two teams (Brazil are No. 1, USA are No. 2) will take Pool F’s top spot.
The last spot into the Final Round will be settled by a head-to-head match between Russia (3-3, 10 points) and Serbia (4-2, 11 points) on Sunday.
Pool E Standings
1-China (6-0, 16 points); 2. Italy (5-1, 16 points); 3. Dominican Republic (5-1, 12 points); 4. Japan (2-4, 8 points); 5. Germany (1-5, 6 points); 6. Croatia (2-4, 5 points); 7. Azerbaijan (2-4, 5 points); 8. Belgium (1-5, 4 points)
Pool F Standings
1. United States (6-0, 18 points); 2. Brazil (6-0, 17 points); 3. Serbia (4-2, 11 points); 4. Russia (3-3, 10 points); 5. Turkey (2-4, 7 points); 6. Bulgaria (2-4, 6 points); 7. Netherlands (1-5, 3 points); 8. Kazakhstan (0-6, 0 points)
China (6-0, 16 points) win battle of undefeated teams, Dominican Republic (5-1, 12 points) now 4-1 in five-setters - China held off Dominican Republic 3-2 (25-19, 25-19, 22-25, 20-25, 15-10) in a clash between two previously unbeaten teams in Bari for their eighth straight victory in the 2014 FIVB Women's Volleyball Women's Championship. The Chinese women snapped a four-match five-set win streak of Dominican Republic, who suffered their first defeat in eight matches. Dominican Republic’s Bethania De La Cruz was the top scorer of the match with 37 points, while Zhu Ting led China with 23 points. China out-blocked Dominican Republic 14-7. In major competitions, Dominican Republic have beaten China only once in 16 attempts. In the preliminary round of the 2010 World Grand Prix, the Caribbean side pulled off a five-set win. Dominican Republic have played five tie-breaks in eight matches in this World Championship. Before this match, China had dropped only two sets against Japan in the World Championship. Dominican Republic are guaranteed of their best finish ever by reaching the final six, bettering their previous best of 11th in 1998.
Germany (1-5, 6 points) overwhelm Belgium (1-5, 4 points) in three - Germany outplayed Belgium 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-21) in Pool E in Trieste. In the German team, best scorer was Maren Brinker with 15, followed in the double digits by Heike Beier (14) and Margareta Kozuch (12). Top scorer was Belgium’s Lise van Hecke with 16 points. Germany have put an end to a streak of four consecutive losses at the World Championship, their longest one since they started taking part in the competition as unified Germany. Germany’s six points in Pool E standing result from Saturday’s victory and three five-set defeats. Belgium has four points, having won against Azerbaijan in the first round and lost 2-3 against the Dominican Republic. This was the third time the two teams met at the World Championship. In 1956 Belgium won over West Germany in straight sets, in 1978 they were defeated by East Germany also in straight sets.
Italy (5-1, 15 points) white-wash Japan (2-4, 8 points) in reaching Final Round - Italy swept Japan 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19) at a sold out Palaflorio Stadium in Bari. The third straight victory of Italy in the second round also sent Dominican Republic through to the Final Six round. The Japanese women, who had won the silver medal at the World Grand Prix Finals last month, were eliminated from the final round. All 24 players of Italy and Japan played the match. Nadia Centoni was the top scorer of the match with 18 points. Miyu Nagaoka led the Japanese team with 13 points. Italy produced six aces, compared on only one for Japan. Japan have beaten Italy once on their turf in a major competition. In the 2003 World Grand Prix, Japan defeated Italy 3-2 in Gioia del Colle. In the matches between them, Italy won 42 times, while Japan 32. Italy now have won 50 overall World Championship matches. Japan will finish outside the top six for the first time since a 13th-place finish in 2002.
Azerbaijan (2-4, 5 points) subdue Croatia (2-4, 5 points) - In front of 3,800 thrilled spectators in Trieste, Azerbaijan claimed their second victory in Pool E by defeating Croatia 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-23). Top scorer of the match was Azerbaijan’s Polina Rahimova with 36 points, followed by her teammate Katerina Zhidkova with 17 points. Samanta Fabris and Senna Usic Jogunica scored 14 points each for Croatia. This was the first encounter between these two sides at the World Championship after they met three times at the European Championship. Azerbaijan won the first two encounters; 3-0 in 2005 and 3-1 in 2011. Croatia won 3-0 in 2013 but lost again today 1-3. After eight legs, Azerbaijan’s Polina Rahimova remains the tournament's top scorer with impressive 210 points, the only player with over 200 attack points (203).
United States (6-0, 18 points) do not slow down in sweep of Serbia (4-2, 11 points) - Already qualified, USA beat Serbia in straight sets (25-22, 25-20, 25-22) in Verona to keep their no-loss trend in the tournament, improving to 8-0 overall (6-0 and maximum 18 points in second round). Serbia can still qualify for the finals in Milan with a victory against Russia tomorrow in Verona, but this is now dependent on the result between Brazil and Russia later today. USA beat Serbia in their first meeting at a World Championship. They also won six of the nine matches they played at major competitions. USA are the only team that have taken maximum points in this championship, winning all their matches 3-0 or 3-1. USA’s best result at the previous 14 World Championship was a runners-up finish in 1967 and 2002. Serbia have now lost two of the eight matches they played at this World Championship, the first loss being against Brazil. Kelly Murphy led USA with 14 points and Tijana Boskovic was again the top scorer on the European side with 15 points.
Turkey (2-4, 7 points) trim Netherlands (1-5, 3 points) in four – Turkey won their second straight match of Pool F with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20) victory over Netherlands in Modena. Turkey’s Neriman Oszoy was the top scorer of the match with 22 points, followed by the Netherlands’ Celeste Plak with 17. After out-blocking the Turkish for two sets (14-4), the Dutch were almost reached (16-15) in the final part of the match. This was the first meeting between these teams at the World Championship. In spite of their victory over reigning world champions Russia on Thursday, Turkey can no longer reach the third round and neither can the Netherlands. Turkey's best finish in the competition is sixth place, which they achieved four years ago; the Netherlands’ best finish is seventh (1998). The only time Turkey had achieved back-to-back wins in the competition was in 2010, when they defeated Dominican Republic and Canada in succession. Netherlands won their first two matches in this tournament, but have since won only one of their next six.
Brazil (6-0, 17 points) avoid upset by two-time World champs Russia (3-3, 10 points) - Undefeated Brazil confirmed their qualification for the final round of the FIVB Women’s World Championship after a spectacular fourth set comeback to beat Russia 3-1 (27-17, 25-27, 25-19, 27-25) in both teams' penultimate second round match in Verona. Brazil’s Thaisa Menezes was the top scorer on court with 22 points, followed by Tatiana Kosheleva and Nataliya Goncharova or Russia with 21 and 20 points respectively. Brazil and Russia have met 12 times at the World Championship, the last two times at gold medal matches in 2006 and 2010, which Russia won in five sets. Brazil have won 29 of their last 31 World Championship matches, with the two losses coming to Russia in the 2006 and 2010 title matches. The European side have defeated Brazil in nine of those 12 meetings. The only team that could take a table point against Brazil in this tournament are Turkey, who lost against them in five sets. After winning 17 World Championship matches in a row, Russia have now lost three of their last four matches, the previous being a 3-1 loss to USA on Sunday and 3-2 defeat to Turkey on Thursday. Russia have now lost back-to-back matches for the first time since 1986, when Soviet Union dropped successive meetings against East Germany and China
Bulgaria (2-4, 6 points) cruise by Kazakhstan (0-6, 0 points) with national pride - The FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 will not see Bulgaria and Kazakhstan in Milan, but both teams fought for their pride in the Pool F match won by Bulgaria 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-13) in Modena. Bulgaria’s score table was led by Strashimira Filipova with 15. Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mudritskaya was the top scorer with 16 points. Kazakhstan made barely half of Bulgaria’s attacking errors (17-9), but Bulgaria led in aces (5-2) and blocks (5-3). These teams had never met at the World Championship. They met once in a major competition, a Bulgaria 3-1 win in the World Grand Prix on Aug. 16 of this year. Kazakhstan have lost all of their six World Championship matches against sides from Europe (CEV). Bulgaria cannot reach the third round and cannot finish higher than ninth in this tournament. They are thereby missing out on their first top six finish since 1970. Each of the last 10 World Championship matches involving Kazakhstan have been decided in straight sets. Bulgaria now have four victories in this World Championship counting the first round, one shy of their previous best participation from 2002. Bulgaria now have 50 overall World Championship victories. Kazakhstan were on the winning side twice, whilst losing on eight occasions. Kazakhstan are already assured of their best finish in the competition. At the 2006 World Championship they finished in 17th place.