SUPHAN BURI, Thailand - With the unfancied teams out of contention, the
Womenís Under-20 World Volleyball Championship becomes more tense in Friday's
quarterfinals as eight elite teams will pit their prowess against each
other including the mighty clash between Russia and China.
Eight teams have already bowed out of the championship. Algeria, Puerto Rico,
Cuba and Taiwan finished bottom-of-the-table in their respective groups
after the completion of the group round-robin preliminaries last Monday,
with Venezuela, Turkey, South Korea and hosts Thailand going down to
stronger foes in the elimination play-off two days later.
Despite the early exit of the hosts, a large crowd of parochial enthusiasts
are expected to turn out to watch all thrilling quarter-final matches at the
4,000-seater Silapa-archa Gymnasium.
European champions Poland, their confidence sky-high after they powered past
Thailand in a hard-fought five-setter on Wednesday, are well-prepared
for Fridayís quarter-finals against Germany, which conceded only one
defeat at the hands of The Netherlands in the seeding play-off.
The second encounter sees China, a young team but already very experienced,
go up against Russia. The well-established Chinese apparently played the
previous matches with something to spare and they expect to win the one,
which really counts. For Russia, to beat the determined Chinese is an uphill
Meanwhile, defending three-time world champions Brazil, seeking their fourth world crown here, also look forward to Fridayís
crucial match against Belarus. The Brazilians have excelled in both defence and
offense and have already proved their superiority over Russia in a
closely-contested five-set thriller.
The last match of the day sees Ukraine confront the fierce attack of the
unbeaten the Netherlands. En route to the quarter-finals, the Netherlands
gained their authority by dropping only two sets to Germany. Itís something
to be seen if head coach Saskia Van Hintum is able to keep her
promise to steer her team to the winner's podium.