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Quartet chase top-ten finish

(L-R) Coaches Yu Jiemin (China), Avital Selinger (Netherlands), Jerzy Matlak (Poland) and Juan Carlos Gala (Cuba) after Friday's press conference

Tokyo, Japan, November 12, 2010 – Playing for the 9-12 positions probably was not among their goals at the beginning of the FIVB 2010 Women's World Championship but considering the other options the coaches of teams involved are glad to still be alive and competing at the quadrennial event.

The coaches of China, Cuba, Netherlands and Poland are confident their teams have enough fuel in the tank to finish the competition in top gear and conclude their participation with a good show in the Japanese capital. Saturday's first match at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium features three-time champions Cuba against two-time winners China.

The Cubans, who have already ensured their lowest-ever finish in 10 editions, boasted the highest spiking average in the competition's first two rounds and are coming off a dramatic five-set victory over Italy in their last match in Pool F. China, who are already resigned to recording their worst showing since 1974 when they finished 14th, will be looking to improve on their inconsistent performances so far.

"We will try our best," Cuba's Juan Carlos Gala said. "Our goal is to be among the best in this round." This will be the 50th time the two squads meet in an FIVB competition with Cuba prevailing in 30 of the contests, though China won the last two key matches between the pair – the bronze-medal match at the 2008 Olympics and the 2006 World Championship semifinal for 5-8 positions.

"We played better in Tokyo than we did in Osaka," China's Yu Juemin said. "We'll do our best in the next two matches." 

The first match at Yoyogi Stadium will be a battle between two European rivals in world No.8 Poland and a Netherlands side ranked 10th. "There are two matches to go and we will do our best to have a strong finish," Avital Selinger, coach of the Netherlands said. "I am confident that my players will do their utmost."

"In my opinion the tournament was very even so far," Poland's Jerzy Matlak said. "All the teams played well and the ranking in many cases was based on points ratio. I hope we can do our best in the next two matches in order to have good memories of the tournament."

The Netherlands, who finished eighth in 2006, have had a best finish of seventh while finishing ninth three times in 11 editions. They have a win-loss record of 10-10 against Pool E's fifth-placed side, Poland. The Dutch have won the last four encounters, though, and 10 of the last 13. Poland, who finished 15th in 2006, will already be celebrating the fact that they have the chance to finish in the top 10 for the first time since 1974.

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