Italy, USA, Brazil qualify for semifinals
Athens, Greece, August 25, 2004 – A breathtaking
four-set replay of the Sydney 2000 final and an
incredible come-from-behind victory by USA against
Greece were outstanding highlights in an exhilarating
day of quarterfinal play where Russia, Italy, USA and
Brazil all qualified for the semifinals of the men’s
Olympic Volleyball competition on Wednesday.
The semifinals on Friday will begin at 19:30 with
three-time Olympic champs Russia playing three-time
world champions Italy while world number six USA take on
world number one Brazil at 21:30.
The quarterfinals produced an astonishing day of superb
Volleyball action beginning with a powerful rematch of
the last Olympic final where Russia gained revenge for
their defeat four years ago when they beat Serbia and
Montenegro 3-1 (29-27, 23-25, 27-25, 28-26).
The Sydney 2000 final will always be remembered because
of the unbelievable effort of Vladimir Grbic, who led
Serbia and Montenegro to gold with a wonderful dig and
an incredible spike in the final rally. Four years on
and after 210 rallies lasting two hours, he couldn't
repeat the same heroics as he missed the crucial save,
which gave Russia victory.
In the second quarterfinal of the day world number two
Italy came from a set down to defeat Argentina in a nail
biter 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 28-26). "We could not
find our rhythm against the Italians who played a very
fast match,” Argentine libero Pablo Meana said. “The
qualification to the quarterfinals was very important to
us, but of course we were hoping to reach the semifinals.
We are unhappy, but we have to admit that Italy is a
very strong team".
The first match of the evening session saw arguably one
of the best quarterfinal matches in Olympic history with
two-time gold medalists USA produced an exceptional
comeback from two-sets-to-one down to knock Greece out
of the competition 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-27, 25-23,
Down 20-12 in the fourth set the Americans launched an
incredible fight back, which stunned the home side into
conceding the set and the deciding tiebreaker. “We lost
a great victory today because we did not play well in
the fourth set,” Greek captain Marios Gkiourdas said.
“We started giving up and that was the end of it.
Congratulations to USA. They wanted it, they fought for
it and they got it.”
The final match of the day saw world champions Brazil
predictably end Poland’s dream run with a 3-0 (25-22,
27-25, 25-18) victory.
The semifinals of the women’s competition begin on
Thursday with all three medalists from Sydney 2000 in
action while China are guaranteed to improve upon their
fifth-place finish of four years ago. The semifinal
action begins at 19:30 with Brazil taking on Russia
followed by defending champions Cuba playing China at
The dream and the
Greece, August 25, 2004 - Peace & Friendship. And maybe
love. How would you call the feeling for a sport hall
that gave you a gold medal in a European Championship
and a second World Championship title?
Samuele Papi was something more than an enthusiastic
teenager when Julio Velasco called him into the starting
six in the Italian Dream Team in 1994.
It happened in Athens. “Don’t tell anyone;” said “Samu”
in the “Peace and Friendship” mixed zone. “But when we
came here for practice before the tournament, I was
shuddering. It was an emotional break. This sport hall
means a lot to me. And now we’re here again, with the
Olympics all around us”.
Ten years following his successful crusade at the
European Championship, Pipi is back as one of the
leaders in a renewed team. Lorenzo Bernardi is no more
by his side, ready to pass the ball; but there’s a
younger blond guy in his place, Cernic.
On the bench, a cut of that gold seeker Italy is looking
to head coach Montali, the man who said: “My team knows
that we need three things to win: attitude, attitude and
attitude. From the first players to our warehouse-man we
are all working as a team”.
Waiting to run on the court are Paolo Tofoli, two times
World Champion, together with Andrea Giani, “Captain
Giangio”, fifth Olympic Games for him.
And now Papi and friends are still on the court, trying
to beat the Olympic nightmare more than other teams. In
Barcellona they lost semifinal for one point in the
fifth set with The Netherlands (the Fivb changed the
rule, it was the last 17-16 in volleyball history).
In Atlanta they said farewell to gold medal for two
points against The Netherlands, again. In Sydney they
met in semifinal the most powerful Yugoslavia ever seen,
and then was bronze.
Keep an eye over the “Azzurri”: the story continues…
Pallavolo Supervolley monthly magazine
Editor in chief
ups in Men’s Quarterfinals
25 August – The quarterfinals of the men’s Volleyball
competition begin on Wednesday starting with a rematch
of the Sydney 2000 final. Defending champions Serbia and
Montenegro take on Russia at 14:00 followed by Argentina
playing Italy at 16:00. The evening matches see Greece
play USA at 19:30 while world champions Brazil play
Poland at 21:30.
Here is a rundown of the advantages and disadvantages
facing each team so far.
BRAZIL: The favourite
Positive: Spiking efficiency and service-aces. Gilberto
GODOY FILHO, Andre NASCIMENTO and Dante Guimaraes AMARAL
have been unstoppable so far and they play with the
self-confidence that they are the best team in the
Negative: The added pressure of going into the final
stages as hot favourites.
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO: The reigning champions
Positive: Good blocking and serving are the keys to
success in modern Volleyball. The defending champions
are at the top of both tables; scoring blockers and
Negative: Ivan MILJKOVIC missed two matches due to fever
and could be affected by a lack of match sharpness.
ITALY: Defence is the key
Positive: Italy head the non-scoring diggers table.
Andrea SARTORETTI has been the best server so far with a
total of 11 service-aces.
Negative: Italy’s blocking has not yet lived up to some
GREECE: Home advantage
Positive: Greece have the most kill-blocks so far, with
63 in total. The supporters get right behind their team
when star man Antrei KRAVARIK spikes.
Negative: The lack of a 'win at all costs' mentality.
USA: Still improving
Positive: Clayton STANLEY has the leading abilities.
Negative: The States have the worst spiking efficiency
of all the teams in the quarterfinals.
ARGENTINA: Star turns
Positive: The star players Marcos MILINKOVIC and Jorge
Alberto ELGUETA are the competition’s two top scorers.
Negative: The team struggle when MILINKOVIC and ELGUETA
are struggling with their efficiency.
POLAND: The dark horses
Positive: The win over the defending champions Serbia
and Montenegro on the opening day showed their quality.
Piotr GRUSZKA ranks among the top-four scorers in the
tournament so far.
Negative: It has been a long time since Poland
celebrated a big success in an international competition.
RUSSIA: Sydney's runners-up out for revenge
Positive: Russian blocking is a big weapon as Russia
rank third in scoring-blockers.
Negative: Their blocking should have been even better.