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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 1, 2007) –
The FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007 is the first of three Olympic qualification steps for Beijing 2008. The top three teams at the World Cup qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Teams not making the World Cup medal stand will have two other opportunities to qualify for the Olympics with continental qualification tournaments in December 2007 and the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in May 2008 at Japan.
The 12-team World Cup field includes the five continental champions, the four best Continental vice-champions based on the 2007 FIVB World Ranking as of Jan. 15, 2007, host country Japan and the two wild cards as chosen by the FIVB and Japan Volleyball Association.
“I think the tournament is very strong, even without Russia, if we want to qualify for the top three,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “There will be lots of difficult matches. As being ranked number eight, we have nothing to lose. With rally scoring, anything can happen. There is an equal opportunity for the teams to finish in the top three. I don't think anybody can for sure say they will qualify for the Olympics in the top three positions at this tournament. For instance, World Grand Prix champion Netherlands and top-ranked Russia did not even qualify. Anything can happen with this system.”
Team USA lost to Cuba 25-22, 18-25, 25-19, 23-25, 16-18 in the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship on Sept. 22. By reaching the gold medal match, both Cuba and the U.S. secured berths into the 2007 World Cup. Dominican Republic finished third in the NORCECA Championship by defeating host Canada in the bronze medal match, including a 25-23 score in the tie-breaking fifth set.
"Our team has been improving a lot this year, and we just finished a great tournament at NORCECA Championship," Lang Ping said.
But to succeed at the FIVB World Cup, Lang Ping realizes the team must stay healthy and perform at a consistent level.
"It will depend how a team performs for all those 11 matches," Lang Ping said. "It is pretty tough. Teams need to be able to play consistently and not have a roller-coaster of results."
According to the FIVB, Dominican Republic and Poland were awarded the two wild card berths in part on the increasing level of volleyball development in these countries and the good position in their continental championships.
China is not eligible to compete in the FIVB World Cup as it has already secured its spot into the Olympics as the host country.
The FIVB World Cup is a round-robin event with all 12 teams playing each other in a span of 15 days (Nov. 2-16). The schedule will be announced by the FIVB later this week.
2007 FIVB World Cup Field: (not in any seeded order)
1. Japan (host country, #7 FIVB World Ranking)
2. Italy (Europe champion, #4 FIVB World Ranking)
3. Cuba (NORCECA champion, #5 FIVB World Ranking)
4. Brazil (South America champion, #3 FIVB World Ranking)
5. Thailand (Asia championship: best after Japan and China, #30 FIVB World Ranking)
6. Kenya (Africa champion, #18 FIVB World Ranking)
7. Serbia (Europe vice-champion, #9 FIVB World Ranking)
8. Peru (South America vice-champion, #18 FIVB World Ranking)
9. Korea (Asia championship: best after Thailand, #11 FIVB World Ranking)
10. U.S.A. (NORCECA vice-champion, #8 FIVB World Ranking)
11. Poland (wild card, #10 FIVB World Ranking)
12. Dominican Republic (wild card, #16 FIVB World Ranking)