Casablanca, Morocco, July 7, 2007 – Hosts Morocco and South American champion Brazil suffered shock defeats and Italy had a stunning victory to open the 14th FIVB Men's Junior World Championship in Casablanca and Rabat.
Russia, seven times junior world champion gave a wonderful volleyball show winning the South American champions in a repetition of the final 2005, were Brazilians also lost before the European champions. In the best match of group B in Rabat, the Russians won 3-1 (28-26, 19-25, 27-25, 25-13 in 1h51). The top scorer of the match was Denis Biryukov with 20 points. On the Brazilian side, Tiago Barth made 13 points.
Italy surprised the Norceca champion Cuba 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-17) in Pool A placed in Casablanca, while Japan beat hosts Morocco 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 25-17) in 97 minutes of great volleyball.
The Japanese fought hard the host team, who were well supported by 2.500 spectators and managed to take the first set 25-23. The first set was the key of success for the Japanese as they had the long breath to win offering a very exciting show, with their efficient spiker Hiromitsu Matsuzaki in the top form, while Naoufal Maskali of Morocco did well too. The Japanese won more easily in the second set 25-16 after a good performance of Takuya Takamatsu. Morocco corrected some mistakes in the third exciting set with strong spirit as they won 25-22 with the courage of Ouali Kamal and Abdel Ihlah Wahbi. The Asian players recovered and gave a lesson of recent volleyball to win the fourth set 25-17.
Italy battle against Cuba was the highlight of Pool A. Italians led from the start with high spirit using the different attacking skills by the setter Davide Saitta and the heavy spikes of Giacomo Bellei, but Cubans began to revive shortly to turn things out 11-9 and then 16-13 due to the efficient spikes of Raydel Delgado and Yadier Sanchez. The squad of Luigi Schiavon managed to recover 21-21 and pushed till a victory 27-25. In the third set the Norceca champions corrected and pushed to 15-15, but Italy led all through by their solid defense and attack till they reach the set point 24-16. The best scorer was Martino Matteo from Italy with 13 points.
Iran's opener in Pool A was an easy straight sets 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-12) over Bulgaria, even though they had to recover from a slow start. In the first set, Iran team started the match by a group of attacking complexes using the strong spiker Mohammad Mousavi, but Bulgaria team rearrange their block to narrow the gap with the good performance of Tsvetan Sokolov. The Iranian attackers were specially inspired in the third set with the efficient spikes of Ali Najafi and the good setting actions of Saber Narimanazhad to win easily the set. Iranian Coach Mostafa Karkhaneh pushed some players from the bench to gain experience.
In other action in Pool B Argentina had an excellent start dropping the first set of the 2007 Men's Junior World Championships, but coming back to score a close yet convincing four-set victory over Slovenia, 3-1 (16-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23). South American Federico Pereyra was the main scorer with 19 points. Juan Manuel Cichello's team will next play the traditional rival Brazil on Sunday.
In the last match of the day in Rabat, coach Andy Read of USA led his side to a 3-2 victory over Egypt. USA won the crucial match 17-25, 26-28, 25-16, 25-22, 18-16 in the only tie breaker of the day.
The matches are held daily in three timings 10:00, 16:00 and 18:30. Morocco will play all of their matches in Casablanca at 18h30.
The first round composed by two pools of six teams each, which will play in a Round Robin system to determine the ranking. The teams will be clasified from 1-6. The teams ranked first and second advance to Semi Finals. The final will be played on Sunday July 15th in Casablanca.