Hiroshima and Toyama, November 22, 2007 – The USA team abruptly ended Bulgaria’s winning streak at the World Cup volleyball tournament in Japan, posting its first victory in the process after two consecutive loses. The NORCECA champions beat Bulgaria 3-2 in Toyama, a huge “shot in the arm” for the Americans. Following Thursday’s results, only Russia remains undefeated. The Russian squad, featuring mostly second-string players on Thursday, easily beat wild card entry Korea 3-0 in Hiroshima for its fourth consecutive victory. World champions Brazil crushed 3-0 to overcome the resistance of Puerto Rico for its third straight win, showing signs of improvement in each and every game. In the so-called Asian-African “derby”, Asian champions Australia beat African runner-up Tunisia 3-1. Meanwhile, host nation Japan beat Argentina before an ecstatic crowd of 7,500, leaving each team with two victories a piece at the tournament. Finally European Champions Spain won in straight sets against Egypt. Results from the fourth day of play, however, failed to clear up the vine for the three berths leading to Beijing, as unbeaten Russia leads Brazil, Bulgaria and Australia by one point; Japan, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA and Argentina by two points. Tunisia has one win, Korea and Egypt have not won.
The first match of the day at Hiroshima Green Arena followed the form book, as unbeaten Russia swept winless Korea in straight sets. With the routine 25-16, 25-14, 25-19 victory, the European vice champions improved their World Cup win-loss record to 4-0, while dropping wild card Korea to 0-4. The Russians, and previously the Soviet Union, have attained podium finishes in all eight previous trips to the World Cup, including five gold medals, and it will be a major surprise if they do not qualify for Beijing from the 2007 edition, even with seven games to go. Head Coach Vladimir Alekno: “We are trying to win every match in this competition, and today we played well and scored a lot, so I am very satisfied.” On the other hand Korean Head Coach Yoo Jung-Tak said that “We were inferior in every technical aspect. We do not have anything better than Russia, but our young players have a strong will to improve. They do not have a leader in this team and they cannot score if they get a chance, so this is the main problem of this team right now.”
Australia beat Tunisia 3-1 in an incredible match. The match included a 35-minute second set, which Tunisia won 37-35 on their ninth set point after Australia had missed four of their own. The Asian champions eventually won through 25-22, 35-37, 26-24, 25-22 to improve their win-loss record to 3-1. The African vice champions dropped to 1-3 and will be kicking themselves after missing five set points from 24-19 in the third set. Aussie ace Paul Carroll ended the first round of the World Cup as the best scorer with 74 points from three games, 14 more than even the Puerto Rican points machine Hector "Picky" Soto -- runaway winner of this category at the 2006 World Championship in Japan. Against Tunisia, the on-song Carroll scored the very first point of the match with a trademark winner on the right. Head Coach Russell Borgeaud: “It was a great match. Most matches against Tunisia are really that close. For a lot of the match I was reminding the guys to keep patient and expect to fight when we have the lead because Tunisia do fight back every time. I am proud of how they played. We needed to use more of the bench, and I have a lot of trust in the players coming from the bench. They did a good job.”
Japan delighted a full house at Hiroshima Green Arena with a straight-sets defeat of Argentina. The World Cup hosts improved their win-loss record to 2-2 with a 25-23, 25-19, 26-24 victory on their second match point, dropping Argentina to the same 2-2 mark. In front of a capacity crowd, both nights were sold out the day before the competition, Japan produced a dynamic display of serving to blow the South American vice champions off the court in three sets.
Head Coach Tatsuya Ueta: “I felt there was something wrong with the players in the first set, probably because they lost in Saitama. I tried to cheer them up. Japan needs to have a strong fighting spirit, especially for these three young attackers. Ogino gives a lot of fighting spirit to the other players, just like Milinkovic does with Argentina. It is very important to strive to show our fighting spirit. I am very happy how they played in this match and with their patience. Good serving needs not only good technique but also a strong mentality, and today’s performance was as good as they can give.”
European champions Spain downed African champions Egypt in three sets in Pool B in Toyama. The Spanish sauntered to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 victory at improve to 2-2, while Egypt dropped to 0-4, despite the best efforts of Most Important Player Elnaeim Ahmed Abd, or “Salah” according to the back of his shirt. “In Today’s match our serve and block were good. We did well but in the second set we had service errors which we need to correct in time for the next match”, said Spanish head coach Marcelo Mendez, while captain Rafael Pascual stated: “We were able to concentrate in today’s game and I am satisfied with the result. Tomorrow it will be a tougher game”.
World Cup holders and South American champions Brazil inflicted a straight-sets shellacking upon NORCECA vice champions Puerto Rico. The also Olympic and world champion Brazilians won 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 to improve to 3-1, while Puerto Rico dropped to 2-2. The relentless attack of Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba), Most Important Player Guimaraes Amaral Dante and Andre Luiz da Silva Nascimento overwhelmed the previously impressive Puerto Ricans, with spike machine Hector Soto overshadowed. “Since the Spain match, we have played with more confidence, rhythm, attacking flow and our service is now good. I am now thinking about the match against Bulgaria. It's always tough against them. We have a new formation and have used it for just eight matches before this tournament”, said Brazilian head coach Bernardo Rezende.
NORCECA champions United States triumphed over powerhouses Bulgaria in an epic five-set match. Team USA won an engrossing match over the wild-card Bulgarians 29-27, 20-25, 28-30, 25-22, 15-12 at Toyama City General Gymnasium to improve to 2-2 and inflict a first defeat on Bulgaria, who dropped to 3-1. The Bulgarians, in formidable form the past week, carried on where they left off in Matsumoto with some punishing play, particularly from Matey Kaziyski, but the lionhearted USA players prevailed, led by Most Important Player Riley Salmon. Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said: “Both teams fought very hard tonight and there were some good plays and some bad plays. But for us, we've had a rough couple of days and the guys really fought hard today. Their ability to focus and make plays at a difficult time was good. Hopefully we can use this win to gain some momentum for the rest of the tournament”. Head coach Martin Stoev: Both teams wanted to win and they played 100 percent today. Unfortunately we couldn't do it, but still the tournament is long and we have a lot of matches. We must forget this game and look forward to the upcoming matches.”
The 2nd Round matches will end tomorrow. The teams then will travel to reach the new venues for 3rd round in Fukuoka and Okayama.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (2nd ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time Match
Hiroshima 23 Nov 12:35 03:35 Korea- Tunisia
Hiroshima 23 Nov 15:05 06:05 Argentina-Australia
Hiroshima 23 Nov 18:00 09:00 Japan-Russia
Toyama 23 Nov 12:05 03:05 Spain-Puerto-Rico
Toyama 23 Nov 15:05 06:05 Brazil-Bulgaria
Toyama 23 Nov 18:05 09:05 Egypt-USA
STANDINGS AFTER 4th DAY
Russia 8 points; Brazil, Bulgaria Australia 7; Japan, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA and Argentina 6; Tunisia 5; Korea, Egypt 4.
(2 points for victory, 1 for loss).
MATCH DESCRIPTIONS, PRESS CONFERENCES, FREE PICTURES
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
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI
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 the Argentinean super star Marcos Milinkovic.