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All to play for as first round enters final stages

The Czech Republic's Aneta Havlickova celebrates her sides astonishing comeback victory against Italy on Tuesday as the side look to use the momentum to carry them into the second round
Tokyo, Japan, November 3, 2010 – The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Thailand and Cuba will all be hoping to avoid any proverbial banana skins on the final day of the first round at the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan on Wednesday as all four need to secure victory to earn their tickets to the next round.

The competition continues on Wednesday after it restarted on Tuesday following a rest day. Poland, Germany, China and Turkey all joined Japan, Serbia, Brazil, Italy, USA, Russia and Korea in the second round following wins on Tuesday. With 11 teams through to the second round and four almost there, only Peru and Costa Rica remain in contention for the fourth spot in Pool A.

The FIVB Women’s World Championship involves 24 teams and is played from October 29 until November 14 encompassing five cities across first and second rounds, semifinals and finals. The top four teams in the four first round (Oct. 29 - Nov. 3) pools will advance to the second round (Nov. 6 - Nov. 10) before the top six teams in the each of the two pools will advance to the semifinals (Nov. 13) and finals (Nov. 14).

Pool A in Tokyo
Peru (17) v Costa Rica (31) at 12.30
Both Peru and Costa Rica come into this match desperate for a spot in the second round, and with victory only good enough for both sides, this is likely to be an intense match. Peru were downed by Poland on Tuesday in straight sets however Costa Rica are also coming into the match off the back of a loss to hosts Japan. The two countries have never met in a FIVB tournament in the past, so are relatively unknown to each other.

Algeria (14) v Poland (8) at 15.00
Poland will breathe a sigh of relief after they qualified with a game to spare on Tuesday but they now come up against a wounded Algeria who are still eager to pick up their first win of the tournament. The European side carry all the momentum coming into this game after their simple win over Peru while Algeria, who are yet to win a set in this year’s tournament, will want to use their final game to leave the competition with a bang. This will also be the first time the two countries clash in a FIVB competition.

Japan (5) v Serbia (9) at 18.00
Both Serbia and hosts Japan come into this match unbeaten and will want to maintain their rhythm into the next round. Japan currently have the edge over Serbia in the group thanks to a better points ratio but topping the pool will be at the front of both coaches minds. Serbia came out on top in the last and only encounter between the two teams at the 2007 FIVB World Cup.

Pool B in Hamamatsu
Puerto Rico (13) v Netherlands (10) at 13.00
With the Netherlands on the brink of qualification this is a must win for Avital Selinger’s side, but Puerto Rico also still have a chance at qualification and will be looking to spoil the Dutch party. The Caribbean side will be disappointed with their loss to Brazil, and all momentum lies with the Netherlands following an easy win over Kenya. However, with so much at stake the Europeans need to avoid celebrating early.

Kenya (35) v Czech Republic (38)
Like the Netherlands, the Czech Republic also need to perform well in their final first round match to ensure qualification for the next stage. Although Kenya sit at the bottom of Pool B, they are still above the Czech’s in the FIVB world rankings. Despite this, the Czech Republic will be stirred by their sensational come-from-behind win over 2009 FIVB World Grand Champions cup winners Italy and that high could carry them through to the latter stages. The last time the two teams faced was at the 1994 World Championships, so both are an unknown entity to each other.

Italy (4) v Brazil (1) at 18.00
This match could almost be seen as an early final for both Italy and Brazil. Brazil come into the match unbeaten and favourites to top the group after Italy lost control against the Czech Republic on Tuesday. However the Italians have proven to be a tough match for the world No.1 in the past. The two also met recently at the final round of the 2010 World Grand Prix where Brazil picked up a straight sets win.

Pool C in Matsumoto
Croatia (45) v Kazakhstan (17) at 13.00
Croatia could still make the second round with victory against Kazakhstan on Wednesday. They currently sit fifth but with Thailand and Cuba facing challenging matches against Germany and the USA respectively, the Baltic side could easily slip under the radar. Both Kazakhstan and Croatia come into the matches on the back of a loss, and with Kazakhstan still without a win, they will want to prove they belong among the best and exit the competition on a high.

Germany (15) v Thailand (12)
With Germany comfortably through to the next round all eyes will be on Thailand in this match. The Asian team were dealt a blow following their loss to mid-table rivals Cuba and only a victory will guarantee them a spot in the second round with Croatia hot on their tails. Thailand have only beaten Germany once in six attempts, however the team will be buoyed by the fact that the victory came at the 2010 World Grand Prix so they could have a psychological advantage over the European side.

Cuba (6) v USA (2)
Cuba are stuck in the middle of a battle between themselves, Croatia and Thailand for a spot in the second round and only a win against 2010 World Grand Prix champions USA will give them some breathing space. The two sides know each other well, playing a total of 43 matches, with Cuba winning 28 of them.

Pool D in Osaka
Canada (24) v Dominican Republic (11)
Pride is the only thing left to play for in Canada and the Dominican Republic’s clash on Wednesday. Both sides are yet to pick up a win at the tournament so will be keen to leave Japan with at least one victory. Canada will be disappointed at letting their 2-0 lead against Turkey wither into a loss and they also came out on top in the team’s only previous clash. However considering that was at the 1978 World Championship history is unlikely to be on either teams side.

Korea (21) v Turkey (22)
Korea and Turkey enter this match with both having qualified for the second round so will be looking to gain momentum. Turkey would have been given a shock after Canada pushed them to the edge in their match on Tuesday while Korea will be heartened by the fact that they almost matched Russia in their loss to the defending champions.

Russia (7) v China (3)
China have been out of sorts so far at this year’s tournament and will be relieved to make the second round. Russia however have been unstoppable, picking up four wins and becoming one of the first teams to qualify for the next round. The two sides have clashed 37 times in the past with China just having the edge with 20 wins.

Pool Standings
Pool A (Tokyo): Japan 8, Serbia 8, Poland 6, Peru 5, Costa Rica 5, Algeria 4
Pool B (Hamamatsu): Brazil 8, Italy 7, Netherlands 6, Czech Republic 6, Puerto Rico 5, Kenya 4
Pool C (Matsumoto): USA 8, Germany 7, Thailand 6, Cuba 6, Croatia 5, Kazakhstan 4
Pool D (Osaka): Russia 8, Korea 7, Turkey 7, China 6, Dominican Republic 4, Canada 4

Highest Scorer By Day
Day 1 (1st Rd): 28 points by Destinee Hooker (USA) in USA’s 3-1 win over Thailand in Matsumoto
Day 2 (1st Rd): 35 points by Manon Flier (NED) in Italy’s 3-2 win over the Netherlands in Hamamatsu
Day 3 (1st Rd): 27 points by Neslihan Darnel (TUR) in Turkey’s 3-2 win over the Dominican Republic
Day 4 (1st Rd): 34 points by Aneta Havlickova (CZE) in Czech Republic’s 3-2 win over Italy

Highest Set Score
34-32 (CRO v CUB in Pool C) played on October 29 (Day 1) in Matsumoto.
*Women’s World Championship record

Highest Scoring Matches
235 (CZE v ITA in 1st Round) 3-2 (25-27, 27-29, 25-23, 25-22, 17-15) played on November 2 in Hamamatsu
220 (POL v JPN in 1st Round) 2-3 (28-26, 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 12-15) played on October 29 in Tokyo
218 (NED v ITA in 1st Round) 2-3 (25-18, 21-25, 23-25, 28-26, 12-15) played on October 30 in Hamamatsu
212 (TUR v DOM in 1st Round 3-2 (25-20, 25-14, 23-25, 23-25, 17-15) played on October 31 in Osaka
211 (CZE v BRA in 1st Round) 2-3 (25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 9-15) played on October 30 in Hamamatsu

Tournament Top Scorers
103 Neslihan Darnel (TUR)
82 Aneta Havlickova (CZE)
81 Manon Flier (NED)
76 Ekaterina Gamova (RUS)
74 Yeon-Koung Kim (KOR)

Birthdays on November 3
Lydia Maiyo (KEN) turns 22
FIVB Tournaments Coming Soon
The FIVB Club World Championships (December 14-21, 2010) in Doha, Qatar
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (June 17-26) Rome, Italy



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