SUPHAN BURI, Thailand September 13 - Fired-up Brazil moved a step closer of winning their fourth world title after they stormed past Poland in a four-set thriller in Saturday's semifinal to set up a showdown with China in the World Women's Under-20 Volleyball Championship.
The Brazilians, who had mercilessly crushed the Poles in straight sets in the
group round-robin preliminaries, got solid performances from their starting
line-up and a particularly strong back court game.
Holding a 2-0 advantage after snatching the first two sets 25-23 25-20,
the Brazilians' concentration slipped and the Poles came back to take the third set 25-16. Brazilian head coach Wadson Lima then reshuffled his young but experienced players and allowed them to take the fourth set 25-17 to ensure their place in the championship final.
"I think we played well in the first two sets, but made too many mistakes in the third," commented Lima, who steered a Brazilian youth girls under-18 squad to win the world title in 1997 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
"I think both Brazil and China are strong teams in this championship and
have an equal chance of winning the title," he added.
In the other semifinal, Netherlands could not stop the Chinese onslaught with
powerful attacks from Lu Yan and scintillating blocks from Yang Shuang and
Lu Qian. Nevertheless they forced the Asian champions to a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-17 25-20 28-30 20-25 15-4).
In the 5th-8th classification round earlier, Ukraine stunned tall
and towering Russia in a thrilling tie-breaker 21-25 25-19 18-25
25-15 28-26, while Germany stormed past Belarus 3-1 (25-21 25-20 23-25
In the Saturday's play-offs, Ukraine challenge Germany for the fifth place,
while Russia and Belarus battle it out for the seventh position. The
Netherlands go up against Poland in the third-place play-off, with Brazil
pitting their expertise against China for the winners's podium.