Beijing, China, August 15, 2008 - Brazil maintained their perfect start to the Women's Olympic Volleyball Tournament in Beijing by beating Algeria 3-0 for their fourth consecutive straight-sets victory on Friday. Italy kept up the pressure in Pool B with their fourth victory, while Poland, USA, Cuba and Russia were the other teams earning victories on Day 4 of the event.
FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta and wife Malú watched the China-USA match alongside Mr. Hu Jingtao, President of People's Republic of China, Mr. Liu Qi, President of BOCOG, Ms. Liu Yandong, State Councillor, Ms. Chen Zhili, Vice Chairman of National People's Congress, Mr. Liu Peng, Sports Minister and President of Chinese Olympic Committee, and Mr. Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing.
Poland downed Venezuela 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-20) in front of 11,000 fans for their first win of the tournament, USA downed reigning Olympic champions China in five sets (23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 14-11 in front of 13,000 and Cuba beat Japan 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22) in Pool A
In Pool B, Russia downed Algeria 3-0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-10) to improve to a 2-2 win-loss record, Brazil swept Kazakhstan 25-13, 25-6, 27-25 and are still to drop a set in the tournament, and Italy blanked Serbia 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19), watched by 11,000 at Capital Indoor Stadium.
Venezuela 0 - Poland 3
Poland cruised to their first win of the Women's Volleyball Tournament with a 3-0 victory against Venezuela at Capital Indoor Stadium. Poland and Venezuela came into the match sharing 0-3 records. Poland got the better of the Venezuelans as the weaker opponent could not set up a decent play due to their poor serve reception. Poland finished the set on a lucky tip from Katarzyna Gajgal. Malgorzata Glinka joined in the Polish attacking spree in the second set as Gajgal again ended the second set. Poland brought in their second stringers in the third set as Venezuela jumped to an early 6-0 lead. Poland made up for a series of early unforced errors with superb attacks from Katarzyna Skowronska. Venezuela fought to keep the third set closer but any hope of a comeback ended with a wild serve of Jayce Andrade which finished off the third set and wrapped the match up in exactly an hour. Poland Head Coach Marco Bonitta said: "This is our biggest win. We prepared a lot. We respected our opponent because they won one set in the match against the USA. Today we played so well, especially in serving and block defence. Right from the start, the story of the match was for us. I'm happy we've won, it is important."
USA 3 China 2
USA upset China in a tight match at Capital Indoor Stadium. The USA took no notice of the huge crowd cheering for China as they matched the intensity that China had shown early in the first set. A rally on an exchange of back-row spikes from Yimei Wang and Tayyiba Haneef-Park was a highlight in the middle of the set. China picked on Kimberly Glass, who made many mistakes on defence of the Chinese attack and serve. Kun Feng dropped the ball over to end the set. The second set was a seesaw battle. Ming Xue played the middle very well in lieu of superstar Ruirui Zhao. Logan Tom played smart offence, targeting the middle of the Chinese court. Heather Bown finished the set for USA. Wang continued to hit hard in the third but was blocked by Danielle Scott-Arruda. Yunwen Ma ended the set with a spike. The fourth set was Scott-Arruda's as China could not manage her off-speed hit on the slide. Her blocking game was also effective. Glass and Tom stepped up in the scoring with their intelligent shot selection. The USA took the set on a four-touch violation by China. The USA pulled away in the fifth while Chinese setter Feng sat on the bench. Glass and Bown scored crucial hits until a defensive stop by Glass on a Wang spike ended the set and the match. USA Head Coach "Jenny" Ping Lang said: "Before the game our situation was difficult. We set up the goal to make the quarter-finals and we only had two games left. We haven't played well in the last three games. We had a meeting to tell the players that every point is very important. I told them to not think about the result, but to believe in yourself and fight for every point. We showed great spirit and played a great match."
Japan 0 - Cuba 3
Cuba overpowered Japan in straight sets at Capital Indoor Stadium. Cuba commanded the first set led by Rosir Calderon who hit seven kills out of her nine attempts. Yumilka Ruiz and Nancy Carrillo also helped in the scoring. Carrillo made an unusual save and returned the ball to the Japanese side, which led to a Cuban set point. Erika Araki committed an attack error that wrapped up set one. The second set was closer as Japan's Saori Kimura contributed to the attack. But Carrillo burnt down the Japanese floor with her spikes. The Cuban hitters had an arsenal of spikes to the middle, corner and the front row of the Japanese side and Carrillo hit an ace to finish the set. Japan did not give up on the third set, using Araki's high attack efficiency in the middle. She also tightened her block to spark something for Japan. The latter part of the set saw an exchange of strong spikes from both sides before Ruiz finally gave set point to Cuba and Yanelis Santos hit another spike to win the third set. Cuba remain undefeated in Pool A. Cuba Head Coach Antonio Perdomo said: "In the second and third set Japan made a lot of fakes, it was difficult for us to block them. Eventually we imposed our strength in attack."
Algeria 0 - Russia 3
Russia sailed to an easy straight sets win over unfancied Algeria in just 1 hour in Pool B at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium. Russia, the clear pre-match favourite, proved too strong for the much shorter North Africans, and also sent a message to the other Olympic participating teams that though they have lost two matches to Brazil and Italy, they are still a strong contender for the medals. With the win, Russia improved their record to 2-2, almost ensuring their entry into the quarter-finals while Algeria dropped their record to 0-4, and are now eliminated. Russia's supremacy was very clear from the first set. Headed by Evgenia Estes, who scored 12 points, and Liubov "Sokolova" Shashkova who added 11 points, the Russians easily won the first set in just 20 minutes. Algeria was determined not to give Russia the pleasure of one more easy win in the second set, which went point-by-point in the early stages. Algeria's Lydia Oulmou and Faiza Tsabet attacked strong from the left and caught the Russians off-guard. Algeria even led in the first technical timeout at 8-7 and then 10-9, forcing Caprara to substitute the setter Maria Akulova with Maria Sheshenina. Things changed soon after. Fast attacks set up by Sheshenina and powerful services by Sokolova gave them a 6-0 run, rallying to lead Algeria at 15-11 and the Russians were again the set winner. The third set was exactly a copy of the first set. The Russians jumped to a commanding lead soon at 10-3, 16-5 and 21-7. Saleha Benhamouda's wild shot closed the set, Russia closing it in 19 minutes. Russia Head Coach Giovanni Caprara said: "Today we have been doing well, in both skills and tactics and our team is improving in every aspect, which has laid a good foundation for future competitions. Today we did not have to worry so much about tactics (because) Algeria is not a very strong team, but it was good time to make some technical adjustments."
Brazil 3 Kazakhstan 0
Brazil continued to dominate Pool B with a win against Kazakhstan at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium. Brazil is at the top of Pool B with four straight-set wins, and will be seeking a fifth when they play Italy on Sunday, August 17, to complete the Preliminary Round. Brazil continued to display their top form, showing good tactics and defence. Paula Pequeno and Sheilla Castro dominated the opening set with their strong blocks and spikes. The Brazilians were still on target in the second set as their hitters scored all over the court, clinching the set in just 16 minutes. Brazil brought in new middle Carolina Albuquerque and spiker Welissa Gonzaga during the third set and that changed the flow of the game. Kazakhstan's Yelena Pavlova and Olga Nassedkina attacked strongly, making Brazil struggle with their defence. But with the score tied at 25, Kazakhstan could not match Brazil's intensity. A double-block from Helia Souza and Thaisa Menezes ended the set and the match. Pavlova topped the scoring chart with 15 points, two more than Brazil leading scorer Pequeno's 13 points. Brazil Head Coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes said: "We were doing well in the first two sets, after we substituted some players, we lost our rhythm and there were some problems. But for now we have to consider the medals and have to think about how to play in our upcoming games. It is hard to say which team we will meet in the quarter-finals. Every team is very strong, and competing against Italy in the next match will be tough for us. We will just have to wait and see which team we will meet, I do not know."
Serbia 0 - Italy 3
The 2007 FIVB World Cup winners Italy eased past European Championship runner-ups Serbia to remain unbeaten. The Italians improved to a 4-0 record with the victory at the Capital Indoor Stadium and will vie for the top place in Pool B on Sunday with Brazil, who have also claimed four straight wins in a row. Taismary Aguero produced 14 kills in 24 attempts and added five aces to lead Italy with 19 points, with Francesca Piccinini and Simona Gioli contributing 11 points apiece. The losses of Kazakhstan and Algeria earlier on Friday have already sent the two European teams to the quarter-finals while Italy, who beat Serbia in the final to win the 2007 European Championship final, started strongly in the first set, jumping to an 11-4 lead thanks to fine serves of Aguero and consecutive Serbian errors. Trailing 18-12, the Serbian women rallied with a 10-4 run to level it at 22 before Gioli and Aguero ran off two points in a row to make it 24-22. Ivana Djerisilo drove a ball off the block out of bounds to cut it to 24-23, but Italy converted on their second set point through Aguero. Serbia went down more tamely in the last two sets. The Serbian Women, who have recorded two wins against two losses, will play Russia in the last round of the round-robin play on Sunday. Italy Head Coach Massimo Barbolini: "I'm satisfied with the improvements to our service and our defence." Italy captain Eleonora Lo Bianco said: "We were glad to beat Serbia 3-0. We had some difficulties during the match but we were good at serving and our blocking was good enough to defend our opponents."
Women's Olympic Volleyball Tournament pool standings after Day 4:
*In case of a tie, the points ratio decides the final rankings
Rank Country Won Lost Points
1 Cuba 4 0 8
2 USA 3 1 7
3 China 2 2 6
4 Japan 2 2 6
5 Poland 1 3 5
6 Venezuela 0 4 4
1 Brazil 4 0 8
2 Italy 4 0 8
3 Russia 2 2 6
4 Serbia 2 2 6
5 Kazakhstan 0 4 4
6 Algeria 0 4 4
Women's Olympic Volleyball Tournament Preliminary Round match schedule:
* All times are local
Sunday, August 17
Cuba-Venezuela 12:00 Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Poland-USA 12:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
China-Japan 20:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Kazakhstan-Algeria 10:00 Beijing Institute of Technology
Italy-Brazil 14:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
Russia-Serbia 22:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Men's Olympic Volleyball Tournament Preliminary Round match schedule:
*All times are local
Saturday, August 16
USA-China 10:00 Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Italy-Bulgaria 14:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
Venezuela-Japan 22:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Russia-Egypt 12:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Serbia-Germany 12:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
Brazil-Poland 20:00 Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium
Monday, August 18
Bulgaria-Venezuela 10:00 Beijing Institute of Technology
China-Italy 20:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Japan-USA 22:00 Capital Indoor Stadium
Serbia-Brazil 12:00 Beijing Institute of Technology
Poland-Russia 12:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
Egypt-Serbia 14:30 Capital Indoor Stadium
Drawing of lots for quarter-finals: The FIVB Control Committee of the Olympic Games will conduct the Drawing of lots for the Quarter Finals immediately after the end of the preliminary round. The first four teams of each pool will advance to the eliminatory phase with this format:
A1 vs B4 (seeded)
A2/A3 vs B2/B3 (drawn)
A4 vs B1 (seeded)
The FIVB will draw, according to the FIVB Specific Competition Regulation, the matches A2/A3 vs B2/B3 and set the match order for the quarter-final matches. The Drawing of lots will be open to the media and conducted in the Press Conference Room of the Capital Indoor Stadium.
Women's Tournament: Sunday August 17, 2008, after the match Russia-Serbia
Men's Tournament: Monday August 18, 2008, after the match Japan-USA.
Volleyball legend Andrea Zorzi is blogging from Beijing with his popular "Follow Me" blog, linked to the FIVB website. Today he posts a video interview with Polish spiker Sebastian Swiderski and asks whether the Olympic Volleyball Tournaments are the toughest of all Volleyball tournaments.