World Champion Italy helps to launch a new era for Volleyball
Germany, Sept 15 - Italy on Sunday rewrote the history books and took home the title from the 2002 Women's World Championship defeating USA in a fine climax to a fine tournament. It was their best ever performance in an international competition.
The other winner was the sport of Volleyball, evidence during the tournament itself as teams like Germany, Greece and Puerto Rico surprised the pundits by swooping into the second round, but most of all, it was Sunday's tough duel between two unexpected candidates - Italy and the USA, which truly launched a era for women's Volleyball.
In fact, the 24 teams that contested the final during three weeks of the tournament delivered superb volleyball to enthusiastic spectators who flocked to the stadiums in record-breaking numbers.
In total, 285,120 spectators watched matches in the eight host cities of Münster, Schwerin Dresden, Riesa, Leipzig, Bremen, Stuttgart and Berlin, culminating in an attendance at the final on Sunday of 9,070 volleyball fans who squeezed into Berlin's Max-Schmeling-Halle after local organizers hastily provided another 500 standing places to the already long sold-out venue.
The finalists certainly gave those spectators value for money and Italy now becomes the fifth country to become World Champion since the first women's tournament in 1952.
"This World Championship was a bigger success than expected," FIVB Event Director Franz Schmied said. Werner von Molte, President of the German Volleyball Federation DVV and President of the organizing committee VONOG, agreed. "Volleyball is now accepted by the German public," he said. Germany will now host the Men's European Championship next year.
Italy's win elevates the "Le ragazze irresistibili" as the Italian media has dubbed their team, to the same exalted ranks of their men's team; one of the world's best all through past decade.
But like any success story, it has been a story of hard work and dedication that started with achieving good results with youth and juniors. Now Italy is reaping the benefits as setter Eleonora Lo Bianco and attacker Francesca Piccinini were part of the European Junior Championship titleholders in 1996. Indeed Italy's their entire starting lineup have all benefited from a quality volleyball education as the sport has blossomed in their country.
The US team was a deserved finalist after sailing through 10 matches in a row in the tournament and only conceded the title in a hard-fought tiebreaker. Head coach Toshiaki Yoshida found the right mix of youth and experience and this, coupled with traditional American courage and fighting spirit, made them worthy silver medallists.
The tournament shook up the standing order and injected fresh new blood into international competition. Former dominant Russia had to be content with the bronze medal and China finished fourth. Both were pre-tournament favorites.
Two teams that are currently reshaping their lineups with a new generation also showed promise. Cuba, finished a creditable fifth and their 16-years-old Nancy Carrilo was the tournament's best server, and Brazil was seventh.
Top Volleyball action now moves to Argentina for the Men's World Championship (Sept 28-Oct 13) in six host cities in the country.
2002 WORLD CHAMPION
Germany, Sept 15 - Italy on Sunday vaulted into the volleyball history books to become 2002 Women's World Champion for the first time ever with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the USA before a capacity crowd of 9,070 in the Max-Schmeling-Halle in the German capital Berlin.
The final was a nail-biting five set thriller where USA took first blood with a 25-18 in the opening set. The Americans took in their stride having star attacker Prikeba Phipps on the bench. Phipps caught a ball in her eye during training on Saturday and sat out the match while captain Tara Cross-Battle replaced her on the court.
Italy was quick to respond to the early American offensive, winning the second and third set comfortably. Traditional American fighting spirit then kicked in and the USA pulled back to take the fourth set and force the tiebreaker.
The two teams shadowboxed their way through the decider and were all square at 9-9. Then Elisa Togut delivered three power attacks to give Italy a three-point advantage. Togut was the finest player on the court during the final.
Again the Americans responded and got back in the match. But it was too little too late and Italy went on to take the title when a spike by Togut gave her team the title. It was their best ever result in Volleyball after placing fifth at the 1998 championship in Japan.
"This victory is a great success," Italian coach Marco Bonitta said. "We were prepared to play against USA with Phipps. When she was not on the court, we had to adjust our game. It took us one set, but then we knew what to do."
The US head Coach also played tribute to the Italian team.
"Italy is the right World Champion," the US head coach Toshiaki Yoshida said. "They deserved to win, because the team is well balanced and has good players on all positions. We kept fighting and I am proud that my team came so far," Yoshida said.
Neither team had ever made it through to a World Championship final before and neither was among the pre-tournament favorites.
It came as no surprise that Togut was named "Most Valuable Player" of the 2002 Women's World Championship and she was also best scorer with 32 points. She also closed out four of Italy's last six points. American Tayyeba Haneef was the best scorer for the USA with 21 points.
On Saturday, Russia grabbed the bronze medal after defeating China (3-1).
Earlier on Sunday Cuba and Korea played off for fifth and sixth place with the young Cuban side emerging victorious to close off what has been for this new generation of Cuban players, a creditable World Championship.
Cuban Yumilka Ruiz was overall best scorer with 217 points. Russian Elizaveta Tichtchenko was the best attacker, while US Daniella Scott was nominated as the best blocker. The 16-years old Cuban Nancy Carrilo was the tournament's best server. The Korean libero Ki-Lan Koo won two individual awards as best receiver and best digger. Brazilian Marcelle Rodriguez was the best setter of the event. The Italian libero Paula Cardulo received the Credit Suisse Fair Play Award.
The 2002 Men's World Championship will start on Saturday 28 September in Argentina, when the 24 best men's teams in the world fight for the World Title. The final of the men's event is scheduled for Sunday 13 October in Buenos Aires.
What they said after the final
Team captain Tara Cross-Battle (USA):
"I congratulate the Italian team that played very well today. I am proud of my team because they did a great job throughout this World Championship. I give credit to our coach who prepared us very well. I am hoping that he will continue to coach us until the 2004 Olympics. Of course it is disappointing when you have made it into the final and lose. We lost the gold medal."
Head coach Toshiaki Yoshida (USA): "Italy deserved this victory because they showed a great performance and have very good players on all positions. My team played a good tournament, but today Italy was the better team. We shall learn from that experience. Keba Phipps suffered an eye injury during training on Saturday. We made the decision that she would not play and it was the right decision. The team played well without her, but naturally she was missed."
Team captain Manuela Leggeri (ITA): "The win was unexpected, but we fought for it until the end. I don't have to words to describe how we feel."
Head coach Marco Bonitta (ITA): "I congratulate the US team that showed great strength although they were missing a very important player. I think our victory was deserved and important. My players were very nervous in the first set and made many unforced errors. They improved at the beginning of the second set. When I realised that Phipps did not play, I first of all was quite happy, not because she was injured but because she is a very good player. At first it was a disadvantage, however, because we had prepared for a game with her. But at the end of the match it was an advantage because she is a very experienced player."
Cuba 3, Korea 2
Team captain Yumilka Ruiz Lucaces (CUB):
We had a few problems in the fourth set, when once again the inexperience of our team became clear. Everything for this team is marked by the preparation for the 2004 Olympics. Today's match was quite alright. At least we deserved this win."
Team captain Hye-Mi Kang (KOR): In the first round we defeated Cuba 3-2 - today we lost 3-2, but are still quite content with our performance. We gave it everything."
Head coach Luis Felipe Calderon (CUB): Compared to our first-round match against Korea we have clearly improved. The difference to such teams as the USA and Russia is the experience and competence our team is yet lacking. But I am convinced that at the next World Championship and even already at the Olympics in Athens, we will again play for the medals. I think the USA as well as Italy are worthy successors to the World title."
Head coach Hoa-Suk Ryu (KOR): Before this World Championship I thought we could finish among the best four. But due to the real level of the World Championship I am now also content with sixth position. We have to particularly improve our
defense for the 2004 Olympics. Unfortunately my team
RUSSIA TAKES BRONZE MEDAL;
Germany, Sept 14 - Russia took the bronze medal of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship in Berlin on Saturday when they beat China 3-1 in the playoff for third. Earlier on Saturday, Brazil grabbed the seventh spot after defeating Bulgaria (3-0).
Russia, the winner of this year's World Grand Prix, was a pre-tournament favorite but in a repeat of the 1994 and 1998 World Championship, they return home only with the bronze medal.
Nevertheless the match with the other pre-tournament favorite China did produce some highlights. Russia opened well, but China was able to defend many of the Russian power attacks of Ekaterina Gamova and Evguenia Artamonova, while their brigade of lightning attackers Ruirui, Hao Yang and Jin Zhang scored some outstanding points in the early sets.
But China did seem to flag after losing the third set and they could not gather the same momentum as they had displayed in the first three sets. Russia then went in hard and ran up a substantial lead in the fourth, China scrambled back a few points in the closing stages to narrow the gap, but the pressure was just too great.
Gamova was in top form and knocked up 28 points for Russia, with teammate Artamonova adding another 20.
"This victory was pretty important for us," the Russian head coach Nikolai Karpol said. "First of all, China and Russia were playing for the bronze medal at the World Championship. Second, we get more points than China in the FIVB World Ranking. This is important for the seeding in the next events."
Earlier the young Brazilian team powered through their match with Bulgaria for seventh place, leaving no doubt who was in charge. The team, a new generation of young Brazilians who have only been playing together for several months, will be a force to be reckoned with when they mature. Although Bulgaria conceded the match 3-0, they can be satisfied with their place in the "Elite Eight" of the world.
The Championship concludes in the German capital on Sunday with the final between USA and Italy at 1500 CET. Before this spectacular clash, Korea and Cuba will play off the fifth position.
What they said after the match on Saturday
Team captain Evguenia Artamonova (RUS):
"Our goal was the World title. We have not achieved that because we were lacking the strength. Today we gave everything to win the bronze medal. Though we wanted gold, we won a medal and that's always good."
Team captain Kun Feng (CHN): "Both teams played very well today. We could not exploit our chances because our team was lacking experience. But our young players have collected a lot of experience and that's good for Athens in 2004 where we will be very good."
Head coach Nikolai Karpol (RUS): The match today was very important because it was for a medal, but it was also important because thus both teams kept their positions on the World rankings. The organization did everything to make us feel at home. I want to thank them for that.
Head coach Zhonghe Chen (CHN): "We played well in the first three sets, our outside attackers were better than against Italy. But we were unable to counter the strong Russian attacks. In addition, we did not receive well because our libero was injured. We have reached our goal to finish among the best four, but missed to win a medal. This is due to the inexperience, the lack in confidence and the technique and tactics which were not so good today."
Brazil 3, Bulgaria 0 (for seventh place)
Team captain Vania Sokolova (BUL):
"Brazil deserved this victory. This should not be an apology, but we were tired after the many matches. We lacked concentration and that's why we lost."
Team captain Karin Rodrigues (BRA): "We are very happy with this result, because we played very well today. We had the strong Bulgarian attackers, for instance Vania Sokolova, under control with our block."
Head coach Stefan Panchev (BUL): "Two things, one positive, one negative. The positive point is that we played against a very good Brazilian team and we don't have such an opportunity often. The negative point is that we lost. My players are obviously very tired and didn't have a good day. I would like to thank the organisers in all cities and the spectators for their fantastic support. I wish the German candidature for the 2012 Olympic Games good luck."
Head coach Marco Motta (BRA): "We played very well today, because my players desperately wanted to conclude this tournament with a good performance. Our tactics worked very well. We are happy with seventh place because we had a lot of problems before and during the World Championship and many injuries. The team is very young and was formed only three months
USA MEETS ITALY IN SUNDAY'S FINAL
Germany, Sept 14 - The two best women's volleyball teams in the world, USA and Italy, meet across the net on Sunday to contest the World Championship final. Neither team have ever held the coveted title, but both have charged through the tournament with such skill and passion that it is difficult to speculate who might emerge victorious.
Neither was mentioned as a pre-tournament favorite, even though it was clear to observers that they were both, since last year, improving rapidly. In this tournament, they have faced Volleyball's traditional Old Guard with courage and either would be a worthy winner on Sunday.
There can, however, be only one, and whatever the outcome, the cards have been reshuffled and a surge of new blood has given the sport a huge boost. From here, with eyes firmly fixed on Athens 2004, the only way is up.
Last year USA won the World Grand Prix title and defeated Cuba in the final of the Norceca Continental Championship. Italy was the runner-up of the 2001 European Championship and in the end, only lost in a five-setter against Russia.
USA has delivered a sparkling performance at the 2002 event. They won all 10 matches on the road to the final, nailing Argentina, Russia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Brazil, The Netherlands, Germany, Cuba and again Russia, conceding a mere six sets in these matches.
The US team is a magic mix of experience and youth. The mighty Prikeba Phipps returns to the US squad after 10 years and, with Daniella Scott, gives the team depth and experience. Youngsters Logan Tom, Tayyiba Haneef and Heather Bown are the big spikers. Setter Jennifer Flynn is playing a great tournament, while libero Stacy Sykora is clearly the event's best digger.
But Italy is equally effervescent and equally balanced, even if their average age is slightly younger. Opposite attacker Elisa Togut is a fantastic spiker from anywhere on the court. Setter Eleonora Lo Bianco brings lightning speed in the Italian attacks. Middle blockers Anna Vania Mello and captain Manuela Leggeri are cool, reliable and deadly and are well supported by outside attackers Francesca Piccinini and Simona Rinieri. Their young libero Paula Cardulo is excellent in reception and defense.
In the final analysis, this feast of volleyball may easily be a question of who can best keep their nerves. The Italian team is being feted by their domestic media as 'Le ragazze irresistibili' but the women's team has never before played in the final of a World Championship. USA last reached the final of a major event in 1984, when the US team lost the final of the Los Angeles Olympic Games against China. Whatever the outcome, the center court of the Max-Schmelling-Halle will be the scene of a major celebration when the final whistle blows, and the real winner will be Volleyball.
The Final will be played in Berlin on Sunday at 1500 CET.
USA AND ITALY ADVANCE TO FINAL
Germany, Sept 13 - USA and Italy swept to glory and the finals of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship on Friday when they dismissed volleyball giants Russia and China in the two semifinal matches.
The Americans won their place in the tiebreaker, but Italy managed a 3-1 upset over China for their place. The result already writes Volleyball history as neither team has ever won the World title.
For the Americans, it will be the first time since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games that they have contested the final of a major world tournament, although in 2001 they did win the World Grand Prix, FIVB's premiere annual women's tournament.
Italy, "le ragazze irresistibili" as their sports newspapers dubbed them after their entry into the semifinal, will be a worthy opponent for the Americans. Both teams have surprised and delighted in the tournament. In their match, the Squadra Azzurra won the first two sets, but let China in on the third before marshalling their efforts to seize control again in the fourth set. Captain Manuela Leggeri scored the last point with a kill block to catapult her team into the final.
The Americans finished with a flourish with some great points at the beginning of the fifth set tiebreaker that resisted the power attacks of Ekaterina Gamova, Elizaveta Tichtchenko and captain Evguenia Artamonova. Logan Tom was the US best scorer with 21 points, a score equaled by Russia's Gamova. Prikeba Phipps made a major contribution to the US victory with 20 points and libero Stacy Sykora was a key player defending many Russian attacks in what was surely one of her best ever matches.
USA's head coach Toshiaki Yoshida expressed surprise and joy at the team's success after he was forced to do without setter Robyn Ah Mow, who is pregnant. Jennifer Flynn, however, has proved to be an excellent replacement.
"When I came to Germany, I was hoping to reach the second round," Yoshida said. "When we reached that stage, I thought it would be nice to be in the quarterfinal. Now we are in the final and won ten matches in a row. I told my players to play match-by-match, set-by-set and point-by-point. We didn't calculate at all. Maybe this is the reason why we are in the final now."
For Italy, opposite attacker Elisa Togut played a perfect match and added a massive 29 to the Italian total. The tall Chinese attacker Ruirui Zhao was the best scorer of her team with 16 points.
"I really don't know what to say," said Italian head coach Marco Bonitta. "I am so happy. I cannot think at this moment."
In the individual rankings, Cuban Yumilka Ruiz is the best scorer with 184 points. Russian Elizaveta Tichtchenko is the current best attacker. US Daniella Scott is leading the best blockers ranking, while Cuban Nancy Carrilo is on top of the best servers ranking. Korean Ki-Lan Koo is the best receiver and the best digger so far. The Brazilian Marcelle Rodrigues is leading the best setters ranking.
On Saturday, Russia and China will play for the bronze medal and Bulgaria and Brazil will contest seventh place. The final between USA and Italy is scheduled for Sunday 15 September at 1500 CET in Berlin. On the same day, Cuba and Korea will play their match for the fifth position.
What they said after the semifinals
3, China 1
Team Captain Manuela Leggeri (ITA): “A dream has come true for me. It is a great moment for Italian women’s volleyball. China has a very good team, but today we played very aggressive in defense, block and attack. In the third set we lost some concentration and became nervous. In spite of being down most of the time in the fourth set our good defense turned to match around.”
Team Captain Kun Feng (CHN):
“Italy played very well today. After we lost the first two sets, we fought for every point, and that’s why we are content with our performance even though we
Head Coach Marco Bonitta (ITA):
“It is incredible that we are in the World Championship final. I first of all thought of the USA and the final. We played tactically and technically very well and showed a really good morale and mentality, for which I worked for the last two years. The USA are taller on average and the strongest team in the block. We must receive very well to make the game fast and play even better than today.”
Head Coach Zhonghe Chen (CHN):
“The match showed that my team is still very young playing their first World Championship. They are not yet stable. Italy played very well today, particularly Elisa
Togut. We played technically and tactically well, but our serves and our receiving were not good enough thus weakening our attack on position four and our block.”
USA 3, Russia 2
Team Captain Tara Cross-Battle (USA):
We are very happy and proud today and on the best way to fulfill our ultimate goal: winning the World title. We knew that it would be a very difficult game today. Our team played
aggressively and with team spirit. We know the Russian team well because we played them often in the last couple of years.
Player Tatiana Gratcheva (RUS): It is difficult to judge about this match. It is a pity that we lost. I apologise to the people who have supported us, be-cause we failed to meet their expectations. We did not achieve to play a fast game, and that was decisive for our defeat."
Head Coach Toshiaki Yoshida (USA): We are very happy. We have a lot of respect for the Russian team, because they have been one of the top teams for years. It was a hard, but a good match. Our block was decisive. I am hoping that this victory will further boost our confidence for the final."
Head Coach Nikolai Karpol (RUS) The main reason for our defeat was the strong US
first finalist at 2002 World Championship
CUBA AND KOREA PLAY FOR FIFTH PLACE
Germany, Sept 12, 2002 - Cuba and Korea will play for the fifth position of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship, after winning the semifinals for the places five to eight on Thursday. Cuba defeated Bulgaria after losing the first two sets (3-2). Korea was just stronger than Brazil (3-2).
Cuba and Korea will meet each other in the match for the fifth position on Sunday. Bulgaria and Brazil will fight against each other for the seventh position on Saturday.
The two classification matches between the quarterfinal losers were well balanced. Cuba and Bulgaria needed almost two hours to decide which team was the best. It was a match between the power hitters Yumilka Ruiz and Marta Sanchez on the Cuban side and Antonia Zetova and Slavka Ouzounova on the Bulgarian side.
Bulgaria started very well and won the first two sets. Cuba bounced back and took the triumph after an exciting fifth set tiebreaker. Ruiz was the best scorer of the match with 31 points. Zetova put 24 points on the scoreboard.
"Bulgaria played a good match and we had problems in the first two sets," Cuban player Liana Mesa said. "There was a lot of pressure for us, because we definitely wanted to win. As soon as we made fewer mistakes we played much better and finally won."
Korea had to fight as hard as Cuba to book a victory over Brazil, the team that just lost the quarterfinal against China. The Asians also needed five sets to win the clash. The Koreans secured the triumph after starting the fifth set tiebreaker very well. Brazil had no answer to the 7-1 lead of Korea.
Kwang-Hee Choi was the best scorer of the match with 20 points. On the Brazilian side, Paula Pequeno played a great match again making 18 points.
On Friday, the two semifinals are scheduled in Berlin. Russia meets USA at 1500 CET, while Italy plays against China at 1800 CET:
The final of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship will be played in the German capital Berlin on Sunday 15 September at 1500 CET.
best teams ready to contest the semifinals
in Women's World Championship
Lausanne, Sept 13, 2002 - The four best women's volleyball teams in the world meet across the net on Friday when the 2002 World Championship goes into the semifinals. Action is guaranteed when Russia meets the USA, followed by Italy vs. China to decide the candidates to contest the gold medal in Sunday's final.
Russia vs. USA (Friday 13 September, 1500 CET, Berlin)
Russia and the USA meet on Friday in a Super Power volleyball summit and the outcome is impossible to predict. Russia, the winner of the 2002 World Grand Prix, was the clear favorite for the gold before the tournament, but is not performing as well as expected. They also run onto the court knowing that their first round meeting with the USA went the way of the Americans and they also had difficulties in the second round to defeat Italy and Cuba.
To the contrary, USA is the big surprise of the World Championship. The American team - a mix of experienced players and young talent - has won all nine matches in the tournament and is the only team undefeated. Two of the victories were impressive. Their win over Russia in the first round and eliminating defending champion Cuba in the quarterfinal (3-0). They have only dropped two sets in the tournament in the second round match against The Netherlands.
Head coach Nikolai Karpol also said he was not satisfied with the level of his team in the quarterfinal against Bulgaria, saying his team could not afford to make the same mistakes when playing against the USA in the semifinal.
Russia versus USA will be the clash between the power attacks of Russians Ekaterina Gamova, Evguenia Artamonova and Elizaveta Tichtchenko and the speedy offensives and blocks of US players Logan Tom, Daniella Scott and Heather
Italy vs. China (Friday 13 September, 1800 CET, Berlin)
For Italy, the 2002 Women's World Championship is already a success as this is the first time ever that the Squadra Azzurra has reached the semifinals of a World Championship tournament. Even if Italy will finish on the fourth position, the Italians can be satisfied.
But Italy wants more. The Italian players can play without pressure when they will face China in the semifinal. China is the favorite for the gold medal, but they will definitely have some problems with Italy. The star players Elisa Togut, Manuela Leggeri, Anna Vania Mello and Francesca Piccinini are playing their best tournament ever. Italy has already already proved itself against Asian teams by defeating Korea in the quarterfinal (3-0) and Japan in the first round (3-0).
China had problems eliminating Brazil in the quarterfinal (3-2) and already lost against Greece and Korea in this World Championship. However, when head coach Zhonghe Chen can select the right six of his available twelve athletes, they have good chances of reaching the final. To win against the Vice European Champion, however, stars Ruirui Zhao and Yang Hao have to show their best.
USA eliminates defending champion Cuba; China advances to semifinal
Germany, Sept 11, 2002 - USA eliminated
three times Olympic and World Champion Cuba
in the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIVB
Women's Volleyball World Championship on
Wednesday, while China had a tough 3-2 clash
with the young, but talented Brazilian team
for the remaining place.
Earlier on Wednesday, Italy reached the
semifinal by defeating Korea in straight
sets, while Russia cruised through their
match with Bulgaria with similar ease.
The American team has now scored nine
straight victories here in Germany and is
the only team left undefeated in the
competition. They delivered first class
volleyball against titleholder Cuba,
culminating in a tremendous block to take
The Americans put up a solid defense,
scoring 17 block points to Cuba's three.
They combined with great harmony and
teamwork with Logan Tom making 11 points, 10
each from Daniella Scott and Tayyiba Haneef
and another nine coming from Heather Bown..
"September 11 is a historical day for
the USA," US captain Tara Cross-Battle
said. "This gave my team an extra push
to play well today. We showed today that USA
is a proud nation and that we are survivors."
This is the first time since 1982 that Cuba
- currently initiating a new lineup of next
generation players - will not be in the last
four of a World Championship. They finished
fifth in 1982. For USA, it is their first
semifinal appearance since 1990, when they
went on to take the bronze medal by
defeating Cuba in the match for third place.
USA will now meet Russia for the second time
in this World Championship knowing that in
their first encounter they took the match
"We should not only think about the
Russian star player Gamova in the semifinal,"
the US coach Toshiaki Yoshida said. "The
entire Russian team is a dangerous opponent."
China and Brazil played a great match in
Stuttgart, watched by 7,421 spectators, but
the young Brazilian team made it difficult
for China. The South American champion won
the second and third set to force the
tiebreaker but China bounced back to finally
lock them out of the semifinal action.
Brazilian Paula Pequeno was the best scorer
of the match with 18 points. Chinese stars
Hao Yang and Ruirui Zhao made 17 points
each.China will now face Italy in the
semifinal in Berlin on Friday.
In the individual rankings, Ekaterina Gamova
is leading the best scorer with 160 points
and fellow Russian Elizaveta Tichtchenko is
the current best attacker. US middle blocker
Daniella Scott is the best blocker, while US
player Logan Tom is the best server so far.
Korean Ki-Lan Koo is leading receiver and
best digger. Brazilian Marcelle Rodrigues is
the best setter after nine matches.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday in
Berlin, while on Thursday remaining team will play off for fifth to eighth position. The final of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship will be played in the German capital Berlin on Sunday 15 September at 1500 CET.
they said after the quarterfinal matches on
USA 3, Cuba 0
Team captain Tara Cross-Battle (USA): The historical date was an extra motivation for us. We wanted to show the public, that we are proud to be Americans. We always fight until the end. It will be a hard match against Russia in the
Head Coach Toshiaki Yoshida (USA): The matches against Cuba are always difficult. Our block was the key for our success. No we have two big goals: The semifinal and the final. My team dealt very well with the historical date of September 11th. I even think it helped
Team captain Yumilka Ruiz (CUB) The US team played very well. It is hard to overcome their block, because the players are tall. I think we will have a strong team until the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to play for the medals."
Head Coach Luis Felipe Calderon (CUB) I think the US team will continue to perform well. I think the USA and Italy will play the final. Yumilka Ruiz was not on form today. She is the most experienced player, together with Sanchez. If the two of them are not on top form, the whole team
Italy 3, Korea 0
Head Coach Marco Bonitta (ITA): It was the best match of my team at this World Championship so far. This is a great day. It is the first time that we have a chance to win a medal. I don't have a favourite opponent for the semifinal. Against China we have to have a good service and against Brazil our attack has to be strong."
Team Captain Manuela Leggeri (ITA): We now have achieved what we set to achieve. Our
technique and tactics were very good and we dominated the whole match. Tonight we will celebrate and tomorrow we will think about the semifinal."
Head Coach Hoa-Suk Ryu (KOR): My team
didn't play well today. Our combinations were pretty weak. Italy had a good block."
Team Captain Hye-Mi Kang (KOR): Italy was a strong opponent. We especially had problems with the tall players. They played very fast. But we are not sad."
Head Coach Nikolai Karpol
(RUS): "The two days of break weren't good for my team. We made mistakes in receiving and also in attacking. I hope that my team will play better in the next match, which is the semifinal and hopefully in the final."
Team captain Vania Sokolova (BUL): "Russia was the stronger team and the good services of the Russian team put us under pressure, therefore receiving was very hard for us. The result of this problem with receiving was that couldn't attack the way we wanted to."
Head Coach Stefan Panchez (BUL): "They deserved to win. Russia's team was very strong. I think this team is the top-favorite for the title of this World Championship. Our problems started with receiving and therefore we made more
ITALY AND RUSSIA REACH SEMIFINALS
Germany, Sept 11, 2002 - Russia and Italy emerged as the first semifinalists at the 2002 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship defeating Bulgaria and Korea respectively in the day's opening matches.
The Russian team overpowered Bulgaria to seal the European clash in straight sets while Italy again impressed by taking a 3-0 win over Korea and now meets the winner of the match between USA and Cuba, while Italy will face the winner of the clash China versus Brazil. It is the first time that the Italian women's team has reached the "Final Four" of the World Championship.
Italy took an impressive victory over Korea in front of a record crowd of 7,200 spectators in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart. The young and powerful Italian squad had already shown in the earlier rounds that they were in the running for a medal at this Championship and they delivered one of their best ever matches against the Asian team.
From the beginning of the match, Korea's defenders had no answer against the Italian power attacks of Elisa Togut (17 points), Anna Vania Mello (13 points) and Simona Rinieri (10 points). Setter Eleonora Lo Bianco was a key figure in the Italian victory delivering a series of speedy sets to her middle attackers. Italy attacked Korean game with a very similar style of play to their opponents and obviously caught them off guard.
"This is a fantastic day for Italian volleyball," head coach Marco Bonitta said. "It was a great match. Korea played well, but we played the best match ever. Everything was perfect and now we are playing for the medals at the World Championship for the first time ever."
This World Championship is already a major success for Italy and only last year the team reached the final of the European Championship for the first time ever.
Now, after a fifth place in 1998, the worst position Italy can reach is the fourth spot.
Russia had no problems defeating Bulgaria in Bremen in exactly one hour. Russia dominated from the start of the match and had a clear 3-0 victory over the number three of the 2001 European Championship.
The usually high scoring Bulgarian Antonia Zetova had her wings clipped somewhat but still managed a creditable 10 points but Russian captain Evguenia Artamonova was the leading scorer with 16 points. Teammate Ekaterina Gamova made 14 points.
Head coach Nikolai Karpol not really satisfied with the performance of his team. "Although we won, my players made too many mistakes," he said.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday 13 September in Berlin. The final of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championship will be played in the German capital Berlin on Sunday 15 September at 1500 CET.
A report on the Wednesday evening matches will
Russia vs. Bulgaria (Wednesday 11 September, 1800 CET, Bremen)
Russia and Bulgaria combine some of the best volleyball skills in Europe so when these two teams face each other across the net in the first quarterfinal of the 2002 Women's World Championship, action is guaranteed. Russia has been European Champion on the last three occasions, while Bulgaria claimed a bronze medal during the 2001 European Championship in Varna, Bulgaria. On that occasion, Russia defeated Bulgaria in the preliminary round and went on to win over Italy in the final. Bulgaria defeated Ukraine in the match for the third position.
Russia is the clear favorite in this match. The 2002 Grand Prix winner only lost against USA in the first round and booked two impressive victories in the second round over Italy and Cuba. Russian players also lead in four of the individual rankings. Ekaterina Gamova is best scorer, blocker and server going into the quarterfinals. Elizaveta Tichtchenko is leading the best attackers ranking. Captain Evguenia Artamonova is also enjoying a successful series, even though she was slightly injured in the first round and was unable to play for two days.
But will the Russian blockers be able to stop Bulgarian Antonia Zetova? The 29-year- old spiker is in great form and it was largely due to her efforts that Bulgaria pulled off a key victory over Korea in the second round.
Bulgaria is a team of great talent and one that is always capable of pulling off a surprise result.
USA vs. Cuba (Wednesday 11 September, 2030 CET, Bremen)
USA and Cuba should join together to create one of the most spectacular quarterfinal matches of the 2002 Women's World Championship. Both teams have met each other many times and know each other's playing styles. Indeed USA pulled off an important victory against Cuba in 2001 at the Norceca Continental Championship and went on to win the tournament. In the same year, USA also won the FIVB World Grand Prix title.
So far the American lineup has had a dream tournament and has sailed through the thirst two rounds as the only undefeated team. They are fielding a mix of experienced players and young talent. Prikeba Phipps, who is in her early 30's, is a stable factor in the team, while younger players like Logan Tom and Heather Bown are proving an asset to the side. Libero Stacy Sykora, a player who rarely makes a mistake is also valuable. She was out for several matches in the first round after a knock on the head, but now seems back in form.
Three times World and Olympic Champion Cuba are in a self-confessed state of change as a new generation of players step into the imposing shoes of some of their veterans now retiring. The Cubans started the World Championship with a loss against Korea but they bounced back to deliver some great volleyball and must be considered a medal contender.
Yumilka Ruiz, the co-leader of the best scorers ranking, Zoila Barros and Marta Sanchez are the three players coach Filipe Calderon can count on, while Regla Torres will also be in a good shape in the quarterfinal.
Korea vs. Italy (Wednesday 11 September 1800 CET, Stuttgart)
These two teams go into their quarterfinal match on very equal footing and whoever advances to the semifinal will be a worthy winner as both teams have, until now, perhaps even exceeded pre-tournament expectations The Italian team was undefeated in the first round and indeed did not drop a set. Opponents were a little more relentless in the second round. Italy lost against Russia and Cuba and made it to the quarterfinal as the second best, third-ranked team.
Korea goes to the quarterfinals after victories over two of the main favorites, Cuba and China. They play a quick attacking game coupled with a solid defense that could cause Italy some problems. Italy has to win to improve their 1998 ranking when they finished the World Championship in fifth. Korea took the fourth place in the 1994 World Championship in Brazil.
The battle between these two strong teams will be whether Italy's power attacks can break through the Korean defense.
China vs. Brazil (Wednesday 11 September 2030 CET, Stuttgart)
China and Brazil meet for the second time in the 2002 Women's World Championship. China defeated the South American Champion 3-1 in the preliminary pool clash in Leipzig. The match should nevertheless be a tight one when the two sides face each other in the quarterfinals. The young Brazilian team has been constantly improving during the tournament and seems to have found true joy on the court while China has had a few problems in recent matches, losing against Greece in the first round and against Korea in the second. Despite these defeats is China still one of the major candidates for the World Title. All 12 players of coach Zhonghe Chen are capable of competing at the highest level, but because he likes to rotate his players often they don't tend to play as many sets as those of the other top teams. China's Ruirui Zhao, Yanan Liu and setter Kun Feng are all world-class athletes and will certainly not make it easy for Brazil.
Meanwhile, the youthful Brazil side is enjoying increasing confidence and is definitely a team for the future. Despite the loss against China in the first round and against USA in the second, the South American formation is capable of pulling off a victory against China. Brazil can play without any pressure, because losing against China will be no shame and if Paula Pequeno, Welissa Gonzalez and Luciana Nascimento can score as they did in the last matches, Brazil can be very dangerous.