Beijing, China, August 11, 2008 - Brazil downed Russia in the day’s big clash, Cuba blanked USA and Serbia, Italy, China and Japan also claimed victories on the second day of the Women’s Olympic Volleyball Tournament in Beijing.
Three-time Olympic champions and 2004 bronze medallists Cuba beat USA 25-15, 26-24, 25-17 in Pool A in front of 12,000 Volleyball fans for their second straight win, while China beat Poland 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-22) in front of the same size crowd and Japan dealt with Venezuela 3-0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-12) in the other group matches. In Pool B, Brazil brushed aside Athens silver medallists Russia in straight sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-16) in front of 12,000 spectators to improve to 2-0 and drop the Europeans to 0-2, Italy swept Kazakhstan 25-19, 25-15, 25-21 and Serbia beat Algeria 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-13).
USA 0 - Cuba 3
Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney Olympic champions Cuba claimed their second straight win with a commanding sweep. The world No. 3 successfully limited the American offense with strong serving at the Capital Indoor Stadium. Cuba finished with six aces through the match that lasted 69 minutes, compared with only one for the United States. In the first set, Cuba fought back with an amazing 14-2 run to go up at 15-7 and never looked back. The two teams played more consistently in the second set where the United States maintained a narrow advantage most of the way before Cuba overtook the lead at 21-20 with a 4-1 burst. The United States fought hard early in the third set, but Cuba steadily pulled it back at 10-all before staging a 8-2 run on the back of stormy services from Daimi Ramirez and Rosir Calderon to take the lead at 18-12, a gap the Americans could never close. Yumilka Ruiz had 15 points to lead three Cuban players in double scoring digits. The American women were led by Tayyiba Haneef-Park with 13 points. Cuba captain Ruiz said: "I think we played a good game and we did what we needed to do. We started playing superb when we find the right rhythm." Said USA Head Coach “Jenny” Ping Lang: "We struggled with our receiving, so we could not play our normal offense. Cuba did really well in serving today."
China 3 - Poland 1
China clinched its second victory by smashing the challenge of rising European side Poland. The 1.96-meter middle blocker Ruirui Zhao was the top scorer of the team by contributing 17 points. Polish wing spiker Katarzyna Skowronska impressed the spectators by scoring the game-highest 26 points. The Chinese, who saw an easy opening victory over Venezuela on Saturday, started slowly in the first set. After missing two match points, the Europeans took the opener 25-22 with an out-of-the-court spike from China's Hao Yang. China rebuilt its defense system and fought back strong in the second set to lead 8-2 with a stunning performance from libero Na Zhang. The team gave full showing to its famous fast attack with tricky drops from wing spiker Yang and spikes of middle blocker Zhao. A combined block from Suhong Zhou and Yunwen Ma helped China level things. In the third set, the defending champions showed real quality to beat the Polish bounce with even stronger defense and fast attacks from different positions. The two sides fought even harder in the fourth and the gap never exceeded two points before the more experienced China took the match point through Zhao. China Head Coach Zhonghe Chen said: "The beginning of today's match was not very good. We were not consistent and lost many points by errors. I asked the players to calm down and they soon recovered from the hesitance and pressure at the opener."
Japan 3 - Venezuela 0
The numbers 12, 17, 12 in 19, 22, 19 were the perfect description for such a one-way match. That’s the number of points scored in the minutes played by Venezuela in losing their second match of the Olympic Games against Japan. When a game ends up with such a big difference any tactical or technical analysis is totally useless. For instance, in the first set the Venezuela players scored only seven points; the other five were Japanese errors. The Venezuelans, the youngest Women’s Volleyball team in Beijing 2008, were completely wrapped up because of the efficient service of Japan, which made complex any attacking solution. In the second and third set Tomas Fernandez’s girls failed to perform better against their opponents’ steadiness and better skills. Japan Head Coach Shoichi Yanagimoto said: “We have learnt a lot form our first match. Actually we will be competing with very strong opponents; we are pleased of our first victory. We based our game on teamwork and the players should play always as a team. In the first set we didn’t, in future matches we should play as in the last sets.”
Algeria 0 - Serbia 3
Serbia maintained their perfect record with an easy straight-sets win at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium. Serbia raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set, powering through Algeria's defense with a series of incisive attacks from both sides of the court. Serbia then controlled the match, focusing attacks into the mid-court space left by Algeria. They clinched the set after a miscommunication on the Algerian side. The taller Serbians also dominated the second set, helped by strong spiking and blocking from Jelena Nikolic, Natasa Krsmanovic and Maja Ognjenovic. Algeria tried to mount a third-set comeback with solid attacking play from Faiza Tsabet and Lydia Oulmou, tying the set at 8-8, but the Algerians failed to seize the opportunity and quickly lost more points - and their fighting spirit. Serbia wrapped up the victory with a quick spike from Jovana Brakocevic from the right side of the court. The top match scorer was Ivana Djerisilo with 13 points. Serbia's captain Vesna Citakovic said: "The hardest thing is to play a game when you are the clear favourite. This is our first game playing against Algeria. They know how to play Volleyball because most of the players are playing in France, so we knew we had to concentrate, especially when we are playing at such as early hour."
Kazakhstan 0 - Italy 3
The Italians maintained their winning record with a straight-sets win over Kazakhstan at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium. The victory came after Italy's 3-1 defeat of Russia on Saturday. The result was Kazakhstan's second loss in the pool. The game started with Italy’s Nadia Centoni and Kazakhstan’s Yelena Pavlova exchanging heavy spikes. Italy moved ahead by powering sharp attacks to the back of Kazakhstan's undefended court to clinch the first set. Kazakhstan raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set with Pavlova's powerful spikes cutting through the Italian blockers. After a timeout, Italy regained their rhythm and levelled the scores, using double blockers on the net combined with fast back-slide attacks from Simona Gioli. Late in the second set, Italy’s Taismary Aguero replaced Serena Ortolani. In the third set, Italy played with their main squad for the first time this Olympic Games. Aguero's return after the death of her mother boosted the team's morale and enhanced the Italian defence and attack. Top scorers for the match were Italy’s Francesca Piccinini and Pavlova with 12 points each. Said Italy Head Coach Massimo Barbolini: "We have continued to play good Volleyball and have won again. Like our match with Russia, we played with attention, good defence and few mistakes, and we did so for nearly the entire match." On Aguero's return, Barbolini said: "Aguero came back and she has participated in training sessions. Of course, she is facing difficulties, psychological and physical, because she has spent so much time on planes and is very tired. But she is recovering her rhythm and balance quickly."
Brazil 3 - Russia 0
Reigning world champions and Athens Games silver winner Russia were soundly beaten by world No. 1 Brazil in their second straight loss. Two days after Italian Head Coach Giovanni Caprara questioned the negative attitude of the Russian players, they put up little resistance in the defeat against the seven-time World Grand Prix champion. As Russia struggled with its form and mentality, the Brazilian women looked good in pursuit of their first ever Olympic gold medal. Fabiana Claudino scored 14 points to lead four Brazilian attackers in double scoring digits. Brazil's Sheilla Castro scored 11 in Brazil's second straight win. Brazil Head Coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes said: "Of course I am happy to win, we did very well, we played with concentration and consistency, but it's just the second round of play. We have to keep working and do it step by step, it's very important." Brazil captain Fofao said: "We played well from the beginning till the end. We concentrated very well throughout the match."
The Men’s Olympic Volleyball Tourmament continues on Tuesday. In Pool A, USA face Italy, Venezuela take on China and Japan play Bulgaria. In Pool B, Russia face Germany, Egypt take on Poland and Serbia clash with Brazil. The Women’s tournament continues Wednesday. Venezuela play USA, Cuba face China and Poland plays Japan in Pool A, while Italy take on Algeria, Russia face Kazakhstan and Serbia take on Brazil.
Volleyball legend Andrea Zorzi is blogging from Beijing with his popular "Follow Me" blog, linked to the FIVB website. Today Zorzi has posted a video interview conducted recently with Brazilian Women’s spiker Paula Pequeno.