Tokyo, 10th November 2007 – The 7th day of competition at the FIVB World Cup 2007 still maintains the same standings as yesterday: Italy and U.S.A. are topping the FIVB World Cup 2007 standings, after their 7th win in a row against Kenya and Thailand respectively.
There was only ever going to be one outcome of this match: Italy (6-0) against Kenya (0-6). Sure enough, at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre on Saturday, the European champions romped past the African champions 3-0 to extend their perfect World Cup win-loss record to 7-0. Kenya dropped to 0-7 and have still to win a set. With coach Barbolini giving his bench some playing time, the Azzurre won 25-13, 25-13, 25-5. Even though Italy rested their first-choice players, including setter and captain Lo Bianco, there was still plenty of top quality and experience on court. “Italy played the match as usual. We played seriously and our goal was getting as many points as we could. I could rest today and the other team members played very well” said Lo Bianco to the press.
Serbia turned on the turbos and rolled to a straight sets victory over Peru in the second match of the day. Possessing too much pace and power for the Peruvians, the 2006 World Championship bronze medallists won 25-15, 25-15, 25-23 to extend their win-loss record to 6-1. Peru dropped to 1-6, despite playing some inventive, attractive Volleyball once again. Serbian Head Coach Zoran Terzic met a very different opponent, not the same as last year. “We played two times against Peru and they were very, very difficult games. We won 3-2 in the World Championship…” Peru is playing this World Cup with a very young team: the starting setter, Zoyla La Rosa, is a talented 17 years old.
Japan delighted a screaming full house on Saturday night with a rousing 3-2 victory over Poland. In a Sapporo spike fest lasting almost two hours and watched by a boisterous crowd, the Asian champions beat the World Cup wild card 19-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12 on their second match point. The victory lifted their win-loss record to 5-2 and dropped Poland to 2-5, despite an incredible display of spiking from 32-point Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata. After the tough tie break, Head Coach Marco Bonitta took the girls outside the court for a moment to announce that he had to leave for family problems. Vice-coach Mauro Masacci will guide the team for the rest of the event. “We were always just one step from the victory” said Bonitta. “It is a pity, because I asked the team to react and they have done that. For personal reasons concerning my family, I have to leave the team and go back to Italy tomorrow. I am really sad for that because the team needs to stay united and together. I have to thank the FIVB and the organizers because I told them this news at the very last moment and they allowed me to go immediately, but it is a tough family situation and I have to go back.”
Cuba had to battle hard to overcome the Dominican Republic at Kumamoto on Saturday, but they dug deep to earn their fourth straight win: 25-13, 25-27, 25-23, 25-18. Cuba really couldn't afford to lose to their Caribbean neighbours, but coming off a three-match winning streak and up against a young and inexperienced Dominican team, the odds were in their favour. But the Cubans have suffered from inconsistency - which goes part of the way to explaining their four full-set matches - while the Dominican carried huge offensive threats in 18-year-old Bethania De La Cruz and 20-year-old Sidarka Nunez, whom U.S. coach Lang Ping described as "unbelievable talents." Cuba Captain Yumilka Ruiz thanked the Domincan players: “They played such a good match... For us today, we started out in good form, but in the second set the Dominicans found their game. But our serves were strong and our blocks were effective and our teamwork was excellent. Eventually, we regained our power and played very well. Yesterday, we had a tough 3-2 win over South Korea, but we got over that OK and were in good condition.”
The United States continued their winning ways in the World Cup with a 3-1 victory over Thailand. The U.S. won the match 21-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-13 to remain unbeaten in the tournament at 7-0. United States coach Lang Ping had suggested that adjusting to the Thais' fast and tactical way of playing might not be easy, and so it proved in the early stages of this match. But it was always going to be difficult for the Thais - whose tallest players are only 180 cm - to deal with the height of the Americans, who have eight players above that height, including Tayyiba Haneef-Park (200 cm), Jennifer Joines (191 cm), and Kimberly Glass and Cassandra Busse (both 190 cm). Not surprisingly, Haneef-Park was the top scorer on the day with 17 points.
Cassandra Busse from U.S.A. was surprised at the end: “Thailand is a really good team; they have good ball control and they're very fast hitters. It was the first time for us to play against an Asian team in the tournament and it took us a while to adjust.”
Brazil showed their class as they overcame a fighting performance from South Korea to win 25-15, 25-17, 25-17 in Kumamoto on Saturday night. After taking Cuba to five sets on Friday night, South Korea knew they had the potential to cause an upset against Brazil, but the Brazilians (5-1 going into this game) couldn't afford to lose any more games in their primary quest for an Olympic berth. Korea's Kim Yeon Koung was the fourth-highest scorer in the tournament (higher than any Brazilian player) with 90 points going into the game and they would need her to be on form if they were to improve their record from 2-4. South Korea Captain Kim Sa Nee said that “We tried really hard to win, but today's result was not so much about winning or losing. What we learned from today's game were the things that are missing from our own game and we learned this by playing such a strong team.”
The 3rd Round will end tomorrow in Sapporo and Kumamoto.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (3RD ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time
Sapporo 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Italy – Peru
Sapporo 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Poland – Serbia
Sapporo 11 Nov 18,00 09,00 Japan - Kenya
Kumamoto 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba – Thailand
Kumamoto 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Korea – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 11 Nov 18,05 09,05 Brazil – Dominican Rep.
STANDINGS AFTER 2nd DAY OF THE 3rd ROUND
Italy and U.S.A. 14; Brazil and Serbia 13; Cuba and Japan 12; Poland and Korea 9; Dominican Republic and Peru 8; Thailand and Kenya 7 (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: A VIEW OF KENYA
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 published today it’s an interview with Kenya Head Coach Sammy Kirongo. He explains how Volleyball has given to many players in Kenya a better life chance
Michael Bradley Photography