Hiroshima and Toyama, November 23, 2007 – Brazil is here. In a spectacular come-back, Brazil crushed Bulgaria in straight sets, in the big match of the 5th day, in Toyama. The high-flying Brazilian squad, determined to defend their crown, beat Bulgaria to improve 4-1. The Bulgarians were unable to react, thus forced into a second consecutive defeat after an impressing beginning with three straight wins. Russia, in Hiroshima, reconfirmed its "favourite" status, after beating host Japan 3-0. Argentina beat Asian Champions Australia 3-1 and Korea achieved its first win in a tie breaker with Tunisia, after a tremendous battle. In Toyama, Puerto Rico, the NORCECA runner-up, came back after two loses and beat in straight sets European Champion Spain, and USA beat African Champions, Egypt 3-0. Meanwhile, the battle for the three podium positions, which lead directly to the Beijing Olympic Games, is continuing undiminished at the FIVB Men's World Cup in Japan. At the end of the 2nd round, only Russia remains undefeated, but all at the competition are still wide open. Thus, interest is expected to skyrocket in the 3rd round, since the teams' Head Coaches will reshuffle their decks in an attempt to produce surprises capable of helping them gain a position on the podium. After the 5th and final day of the 2nd round, Russia leads undefeated, Brazil has 4 victories, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, USA, Argentina and Australia 3, Japan and Spain 2, Tunisia and Korea 1 and Egypt remains winless.
Korea won their first match of the 2007 World Cup by beating Tunisia 3-2 in the first match of the day at Hiroshima Green Arena on Friday. The Koreans, a wild card here, ended a run of four straight defeats by outlasting the African vice champions 25-17, 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-9. Korea, who had won only two sets in their previous four matches, improved their win-loss record to 1-4, dropping Tunisia to the same mark with their fourth straight defeat. “I am very happy that we could win today. We won because the players kept their concentration throughout the game, and our players had more passion and fighting spirit than Tunisia. I want to win as many as we can from here” said Head Coach Yoo Jung-Tak while captain Shin Young-Soo stated: “I am not concerned about the contents of the game, I am just happy that we finally won a match. Hopefully we can continue this in the next games.”
Argentina held off Australia 3-1 in an entertaining match. The South American vice champions improved their World Cup win-loss record to 3-2 with a 25-21, 21-25, 25-14, 25-23 victory. Australia, the Asian champions, dropped to the same 3-2 mark as the teams prepare to leave Hiroshima and head for the third stage. The match brought together the coaching duo that had taken Australia to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, with former head coach Jon Uriarte now in charge of his native Argentina, and his assistant Russell Borgeaud guiding the Aussies. Head Coach Jon Uriarte: “ Today was a very special match for me because it is the first time I played officially against Australia after I left a couple of years ago.
We have been working with Russell (Borgeaud) with this group of players for a few years, so it is a real pleasure that Australia keeps going and getting results, like winning the Asian Championship. It was a really tough match because both teams and both coaches know each other so well. The match was like a chess match. For our team to develop the mental capacity and keep their discipline on key issues was really important.”
Russia rumbled to their fifth straight victory in the World Cup, sweeping Japan
3-0. The European vice champions used their awesome power game to batter down the Japanese resistance 25-19, 25-20, 25-23 and improve their win-loss record to 5-0 with six games to go. The Russians have lost only one set in those five outings, against African vice champions Tunisia. Japan, who had swept Argentina the previous evening with a terrific display of jump serving, dropped to 2-3 as the Hiroshima leg of the 12-team competition came to a close on a national holiday in Japan. Head Coach Vladimir Alekno: “It could be dangerous if we feel like we can win easily, but this is not the case. Japan played incredibly. They improved their weak points a lot. The players played according to a strategy, but it was a tough match because the Japanese players are much better than they used to be. I cannot fault my players at all.” Japanese Head Coach Tatsuya Ueta said: “It is disappointing that we could only start playing well from the middle of the match. The Russian serve was very good at the start and we let them score easily. I let Yamamoto play from the second set and he played very well. I decided I would not take him out of the game in this match. I feel I have to win against every team we are facing, no matter whether they are strong or weak, so I am really sorry we lost in straight sets today. Basically, Russia played faster and had taller players than us, so we had a problem with the blocking. We have a good defence recently, but our weak point is the counter attack and we need to practice this to improve our play. We could block well at certain times, but it did not lead to points, so we still have problems on blocking.”
In their first-ever meeting, NORCECA vice champions Puerto Rico notched a straightforward 3-0 victory over European champions Spain. The Puerto Ricans won 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 at Toyama City General Gymnasium, guided by the Most Important Player Hector Soto, to improve to 3-2, while Spain dropped to 2-3. A large crowd turned out to cheer on the two teams and the fans got some top quality volleyball from the get-go. Puerto Rican captain Hector Soto said: “This was more the type of match we have been playing. We had a lot of digs and blocks so a lot of chances for points. We took advantage of their mistakes and we played a really good game. Our serve was in and overall we had one of our best matches today”.
World Cup holders and South American champions Brazil outclassed Bulgaria to win in straight sets. With a carnival atmosphere, produced by the yellow-clad Brazilian supporters packing Toyama City General Gymnasium, the Olympic and World Champion Brazilians brushed aside the wild-card Bulgarians, third at last year’s worlds, to notch a 25-14, 25-21, 25-19 victory. The Bulgarians, for whom star Matey Kaziyski had a particularly quiet game, just couldn’t cope with some frankly dazzling volleyball, not least from Most Important Player Gustavo Endres and Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba). “After Bulgaria's game yesterday perhaps they lacked a little energy and that helped us. We were able to control them better. We still have pressure to keep going but we played with the right attitude today, fighting for every ball. We now need to think about our next match against Australia. They are a very tall team and we always have problems against tall teams”, said Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende. Bulgarian Captain Plamen Konstantinov stated: “They were better today. It was a difficult game for us after losing yesterday to United States (in five sets). We lost a lot of energy with that and pschologically we were not very good today. The difference was Brazil played very well. We need to try to recover quickly and be willing to reach of the first three places”.
United States, NORCECA champions beat African champions Egypt in straightforward fashion. The U.S. won 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 to improve to 3-2, while Egypt lost their fifth in a row. Led by the Most Important Player Sean Rooney, ably assisted by William Priddy, Team USA, who beat Bulgaria in a punishing five-setter the previous day, were a little sluggish out of the blocks but found their form to dominate proceedings on the last day of action in Toyama.
American Captain Thomas Hoff said: “The game was important as yesterday's (against Bulgaria) but even more so as a continuation of us getting better as a team. We're trying to concentrate on playing better volleyball each day and we achieved that today. Sean Rooney is one of the up-and-comers on the U.S. team. He needs matches like this. He's a guy who our team will rely on as he gets more experience. He's going to be a very good international player if he keeps progressing at the current rate”.
The 3rd Round matches will start on November 25. The teams will travel tomorrow, Nov. 24, to new venues in Fukuoka and Okayama. The Head Coaches will hold their press conference at 18:30 hrs in Fukuoka and Okayama to introduce the 3rd Round. This round will last three days.
STANDINGS AFTER 5th DAY
Russia 10 points; Brazil 9; Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, USA, Argentina and Australia 8; Japan and Spain 7; Tunisia and Korea 6; Egypt 5.
(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 Italian coach Antonio Giacobbe who coaching Tunisian team.