Women's Olympic Games 2004
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Quarterfinals
24 August
 
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China, Russia, Cuba, Brazil through to semifinals
Athens, Greece, August 24, 2004 – World Cup title holders China, world number six Russia, defending champions Cuba and World Grand Prix title holders Brazil all reached the semifinals of the 2004 Olympic Games women’s Volleyball competition after quarterfinal victories on Tuesday.
All three medalists from Sydney 2000 have reached the semifinals while China are guaranteed to improve upon their fifth-place finish four years ago. The semifinal action on Thursday begins at 19:30 with Brazil taking on Russia followed by Cuba playing China at 21:30.
In the last match on Tuesday in the Peace and Friendship Stadium, Sydney bronze medalists Brazil pulled off a brilliant five set (25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 25-27, 15-6) victory over world number one USA to seal the last quarterfinal spot. It was a classy display from the world number two as they watched USA fight back from two sets down to level before clinching the tiebreaker convincingly.
Earlier, Cuba kept their “four-peat” chances alive with a breathtaking five set marathon with Italy. After nearly two hours of exquisite Volleyball, Cuba eventually triumphed 3-2 (25-23, 14-25, 22-25, 25-14, 15-12) to keep their hopes alive of winning their fourth successive women’s Olympic Volleyball gold.
"We knew that the match would be difficult because Italy is one of the strongest teams of the tournament,” Cuba’s Rosir Calderon Diaz said. “Now, we move on and I am sure that we will be one of the teams which will win a medal."
“It was obviously very disappointing for us to lose today,” Italian coach Marco Bonitta said. Nevertheless, they deserved to win. Today, it was more a victory for Cuba and less a defeat for Italy."
The first game of the day saw China show their class and prove that they are also one of the favourites for gold after beating Japan 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20). "We had six matches against Japan this year and this was the hardest to win,” China coach Zhonghe Chen said. Meanwhile, Russia also looked in ominous form following a straight sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-22) win over Korea.
The quarterfinals of the men’s competition begin on Wednesday with a repeat of the 2000 final at 14:00 when defending champions Serbia and Montenegro play Russia, followed by Argentina playing Italy at 16:00. The evening matches see Greece take on USA at 19:30 before Poland play world champions Brazil at 21:30.
 
Volleyball providing another great experience
Athens, Greece, August 24, 2004 – Volleyball at the Olympics gathers all the qualities of team sport - participation, discipline and the Olympic spirit making for a magnificent experience for all concerned.
The 28th Olympiad in Athens has welcomed teams from right around the world bringing together different playing styles, cultures and personalities. These elements are part of the special mix that makes the Olympics such a challenging yet spectacular event to participate in. Pic: Kenya captain Violet Barasa said the level of games are higher compared to Sydney
The 20-year-old wing spiker from Japan Kama Oyama is competing in her first Olympic Games and is enjoying every minutes of it. “I am very happy because a lot of Japanese spectators have made the effort to come here and support us,” she said. “The Greek spectators are also very supportive, which is great because the level of play here is very high.”
For Kenya, this is only the second time they have competed in the Olympics after they finished 11th in 2000 and once again it is a learning experience. For captain Violet Barasa, 29, it is like a homecoming for her. “The Olympics and especially Volleyball are very well organized and I am very happy to be here. Compared to Sydney the level of the games is higher,” she said. “I used to play for a Greek team as well and I lived in Athens so I am very glad to be here competing.”
But for the Dominican Republic this is their first Olympic Games experience. “The level and quality of the organization are high which makes it very popular,” 28-year-old Cabrera Francia Jackson said. “People who came to watch the matches and especially Greeks are wonderful. Furthermore woman’s Volleyball is popular here and the games are very competitive, just like Grand Prix competitions.”
The women’s competition has reached the quarterfinal stage today where Japan play China in the first match at 14:00. Russia play Korea in the match following at 16:00 before Italy play Cuba at 19:30 and world number one USA take on world number two Brazil at 21:30.
 
Russia’s Gamova leads player rankings
ATHENS, 23 August – Ekaterina GAMOVA of Russia is the most dominant player of the women’s tournament so far according to the Player Rankings by Skills.

Every player in the competition has been ranked according to their individual skills and at the end of the Preliminary Round and GAMOVA is one of two Russians who lead the Best Scorer ranking. The 23-year-old Gamova, with 115 points at an average of 23 per match, leads her teammate Lioubov Shashkova who has 96 points. USA’s Logan Tom is third with 90 points.

Testament to her awesome all round skill GAMOVA also heads the top blocker rankings with 22 kill-blocks in total at an average of 1.16 per set. Korean CHANG So Yun and Germany’s Christiane FURST and Olessya KULAKOVA follow with 16, 14 and 14 blocks respectively.

Cuba’s Zoila BARROS FERNANDEZ leads the serving ranking with 16 aces at an average of 0.76 per set, followed by China’s WANG Lina (10 aces at an average of 0.56 per set) and Hao YANG (seven aces at an average of .39).

BARROS FERNANDEZ’s teammate Yaima ORTIZ CHARRO is the most efficient spiker with 46.27% success rate followed by China's ZHANG Ping and LIU Yanan follow with 44.21% and 43.59% respectively.

KIM Sa Nee of Korea is the best setter with an average of 8.63 sets per set, while Japan’s Ikumi NARITA is the best receiver with a percentage of 77.67%. Arlene XAVIER of Brazil ranks first on the table of best diggers with 3.41 per set.
ONS sk/dlf