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FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup 2007: Puerto Rico stunned USA

Puerto Rico produced a historical win against USA
Saitama  and Matsumoto, November 19, 2007 - Puerto Rico stunned the USA team on Monday, posting the second major surprise of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup of Japan, as it beat the latter 3-1. Puerto Rico remains undefeated and its win shook up the standings and pre-tournament predictions. Additionally, Russia and Bulgaria remained undefeated after the second day’s matches at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup of Japan. Russia and Bulgaria with Puerto Rico doubled their victories and continued successfully.
The Russian team easily beat Asia champion Australia in straight sets, whereas wild card entry Bulgaria had no problem beating Egypt 3-0. In the Asia “derby” the Japanese team outlasted 3-0 Korea before a home crowd for its first win of the tournament. Additionally, the young Argentina side beat Tunisia 3-1. Finally, powerhouse Brazil posted its first victory in straight sets to down European champion Spain.
Russia held off a feisty Australia 3-0 in the first match of the second day in Saitama. The European aristocrats followed up their straight-sets sweep of Argentina on Sunday with another convincing display, beating the recently crowned Asian champions 25-22, 28-26, 25-10. But Russia had to work hard to overcome the Aussies, saving one set point in the second set, to improve their win-loss record to 2-0. Australia , competing in their first World Cup, dropped to 1-1. Head Coach Vladimir Alekno said:“ We had a good level of play during the game, but it was not easy to win. I am especially pleased because today’s players were reserve players. We played with different players in the first game, so I am satisfied with the result.”
Argentina recorded their first victory of the World Cup, but not without a struggle as they beat Tunisia 3-1. After their 66-minute volleyball lesson by Russia on Sunday, the South American vice champions rebounded to hold off a slow-starting Tunisia 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23. With the win, Argentina improved their World Cup record to 1-1. Tunisia , the African vice champions, dropped to the same 1-1 mark, after their heroic five-set success against Japan the previous evening. Head Coach Jon Uriarte said: “As usual the matches against Tunisia are very tough. We needed to express our best to win against them tonight. Our reception gave the chance to the setter to extract the best out of our attackers. Santiago Orduna has the capacity to do this, but he needs the help of the reception. All three outside hitters did a good job.”
Japan gave a wild reception to World Cup wild card Korea at Saitama Super Arena on Monday night, the hosts sweeping their regional rivals in straight sets.
In front of 14,300 spectators, Japan raced to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 victory to improve their World Cup win-loss record to 1-1. Korea dropped to 0-2. Both teams had suffered full-set defeats on the opening day after missing match points ( Korea 10 against Australia and Japan two against Tunisia ) but this did not seem to have affected their determination at the start of a new match. In  an electric atmosphere, Japan 's new spiking hero Kunihiro Shimizu (28 points against Tunisia ) quickly went to work with some crunching cross-court winners from the right. On one occasion, though, he was blocked by Korea captain Shin Young-Soo, who soon added a spike down the left.
Head Coach Tatsuya Ueta: “We lost in such difficult circumstances yesterday, so I thought a lot during the night how to win this game against Korea . The important thing was to win and build up our objective again for the team. Today’s game was valuable and will put us in a good mood for tomorrow’s match. We want to win playing our style of volleyball, not by chance.”
Wild-card Bulgaria beat African champions Egypt in four sets in the teams’ second match in Matsumoto. The Bulgarians, third-place finishers at the 2006 World Championships, won 25-19, 25-18 23-25, 25-18 and improved to 2-0. Egypt dropped to 0-2. Martin Stoev’s men were made to work hard for their victory as 23-year-old Elnaeim Ahmed Abd (Salah) spiked with authority well beyond his years, but Bulgaria proved too tough courtesy of the excellent attack of man of the match Todor Aleksiev, Matey Kiziyski and Vladimir Nikolov. Bulgarian Head Coach Martin Stoev said that “all the team will play better and better match after match. One good result for us and good goal difference today. I was a little bit disappointed with the youngest players. We needed the more experienced players to come back and finish off the game. All the matches we play we go for victory. We don't plan to lose against anybody.”
Puerto Rico beat the United States for the first time in 30 years with a four-set victory to improve to 2-0. The Puerto Ricans, who finished second to team USA at the Norceca Championships, beat them 25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22. United States , who shocked Brazil in straight sets in their first match, dropped to 1-1. Once again, Hector Soto was the star of the show and was awarded with the Most Important Player for another spectacular showing. The last time Puerto Rico beat USA was at the 1977 Norceca Championships. The Head Coach Carlos D. Cardona: “I'm satisfied with today's match. We analyzed them and prepared for them. They had a great win yesterday and so maybe had a little bit more pressure. We had less pressure, didn't feel very nervous and were in a good situation. Today is a historical win for Puerto Rico . We won't change our focus. We want to do our best to improve in the world rankings. Meanwhile the Captain Hector Soto emphasized:” It was a really good match for us. We played with the same intensity as yesterday. The USA is the only team in NORCECA we haven't had a chance to beat and today we finally did it. We took advantage of their mistakes and their lack of intensity and we kept a high level and were able to win.
World Cup holders and South American champions Brazil downed European champions Spain 30-28, 25-17, 25-16. The Brazilians, also world and Olympic champions, delighted the yellow-clad masses with some vivacious volleyball to improve to 1-1, putting to the back of their minds the previous day’s defeat to United States . Spain held their own for a while but couldn’t cope with the energetic flair of Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba) and the venomous spiking of Most Important Player Andre Luiz da Silva Nascimento (Andre) and dropped to 0-2. Head coach Bernando Resende: “We started quite nervously. Spain had a good first set. We tried to control our nerves and then get a good rhythm. We hope we can improve. We're a team that plays very quick and the lack of preparation has been very tough for us. A week is too little preparation. It was a good result today but we have to focus on Egypt tomorrow.”
The 1st Round matches will continue tomorrow: third day will be staged again in Saitama and Matsumoto.
City                 date     Loc. time GMT time         Match
Saitama          20 Nov  12:35       03:35         Russia-Tunisia
Saitama          20 Nov  15:05       06:05         Argentina- Korea
Saitama          20 Nov  18:00       09:00         Japan-Australia
Matsumoto     20 Nov  13:05       04:05         Bulgaria-Puerto Rico              
Matsumoto     20 Nov  15:35       06:35         Spain-USA
Matsumoto     20 Nov  18:35       09:35         Brazil-Egypt
Russia, Puerto Rico Bulgaria 4 points; Japan, Brazil, USA, Tunisia, Argentina, Australia 3; Korea, Spain, Egypt 2.
(2 points for victory, 1 for loss).
The FIVB provides complete real time coverage of the event. Match
descriptions, press conference reports and free pictures downloadable in high
resolution for Media purpose are available from the home page of the FIVB
website (
Andrea Zorzi, the former Italian national Volleyball player and two times World
Champion, is working on his special blog “Follow Me” from the FIVB website
home page. New articles have been uploaded, explaining technical topics and
big stories of the event. The last video interview published on “Follow Me” is
with Doug Beal, US Volleyball CEO.


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