Tokyo, 16th November 2007 – The FIVB Women’s World Cup gold medal goes to Italy. For the first time ever, the Women’s team of “Azzurre” entered the World Cup podium and went straight through the highest step. Italy, Brazil and U.S.A, thanks to their gold, silver and bronze medals, got the first three berths for the Olympic Games. They will be, together with host country China, among the 12 teams that will compete from 9th to 23rd of August 2008 in Beijing. “The Women’s World Cup 2007 had a tremendous impact on the media” says the FIVB President, Dr. Rubén Acosta. “The host broadcaster Fuji Television for many matches had a market share exceeding 20%. The 66 matches were seen by more than 200,000 spectators in the venues here in Japan. And the gold medal winner Italy is a team which gives a strong example of our sport’s image: they show fair play, they are record-breakers with just two sets lost in this World Cup, and they are also outstanding athletes like the MVP Gioli, who came back on the court after becoming a mother”.
Under the heavy spiking of the former Cuban player, Taismary Aguero, Italy completed a fantastic season, after the gold medal in the European Championship. Today’s match was their 21st victory in a row, counting the European Championship, the 2008 World Grand Prix qualification and the 11 victories in this World Cup. The team has beaten an Italian record (20 victories in a row) fixed by the Men’s team during Head Coach Julio Velasco’s golden era. A big boost to the team was given by MVP player, the middle blocker Simona Gioli. 14 months after the birth of her son Gabriele, she conquered the World Cup gold medal after three other events (European CEV Cup, Italian Cup, Italian Championship) with the Italian club Perugia, coached by the Italian Head Coach Massimo Barbolini.
Italy completed an 11-game sweep at the World Cup, beating the United States in straight sets in the second game of the final day at Nippon Gaishi Hall on Friday. The European champions and world No. 4 held off a determined challenge from the eighth-ranked Americans 25-20, 25-18, 27-25 to become only the fifth country to win the World Cup, after the former Soviet Union, Japan, China (three times) and Cuba (four times). Massimo Barbolini's well-drilled team ended the campaign with a perfect 11-0 record, while the United States dropped to 9-2 but still had the satisfaction of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics with a podium finish. Their only two defeats came against European opposition, Serbia and Italy. “I want to congratulate all the players and the staff for this victory today” said Captain Eleonora Lo Bianco, the starting setter who was out in the last three matches for a back ache. “This is an historical victory. The game was not easy, but we were patient to the end. We knew we had a ticket to Beijing already, but we were still determined not to lose a game. Through repeated practice we have stronger mentality rather than physical power.”
Cuba ended the World Cup on a winning note by beating Serbia 3-1. The four-time World Cup winners and reigning NORCECA champions recovered from losing the first set to defeat the 2006 World Championship bronze medallists 23-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22. The victory improved their win-loss record to 8-3 while dropping the European vice champions to 7-4. “We played a very good game today” said Cuban Captain Yumilka Ruiz “which was important because we have to prepare for the next series of matches in qualifying for the Olympics. We will play in Monterrey, Mexico, against Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada, so we must prepare well and get the right result. We must use this experience for our future game, so I think we played very well in this situation.”
Brazil clinched their fourth consecutive podium finish at the World Cup by beating Japan 3-1 in the last match of the competition at Nippon Gaishi Hall on Friday night. The South American champions and world No. 3, who have never won the World Cup, qualified comfortably for Beijing with a 25-16, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18 victory over the host team to finish with a 9-2 win-loss record. Japan, the Asian champions and ranked seventh in the world, dropped to 6-5 after losing their third straight at Nagoya. But at least Japan recovered their pride after the previous night's heavy defeat by the United States. Head Coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes: “I am happy to qualify because this was our target, but it is a pity because we came here to improve and win this tournament but we have kept the same position as four years ago. I have to say Italy did a very good job, took first place and is the top team in the world.”
The Dominican Republic came from two sets down on Friday to overcome rivals Peru and claim their third win of the World Cup. The Dominicans won 23-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-10, 15-13. Head Coach Beato Miguel Cruz: “I haven't been happy with all my players in this World Cup. Some of them didn't perform as I think they should have done, so when we return home, we must reorganize the team. We have only 30 days to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers.”
Poland cruised past Thailand at Park Arena Komaki on Friday for their sixth win in the World Cup. Poland finally overcame the feisty Thais 25-15, 25-17, 25-22. Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata also had the opportunity to finish as the tournament's top scorer. “I think in this World Cup we didn't have so much luck” said Head Coach Mauro Masacci, who replaced Marco Bonitta during the event. “In the Cuba and Japan games, we were close, but we couldn't win. Later, we were able to win four games in a row, so I'm happy with our position.”
South Korea had few problems overcoming the winless Kenyans in their final match of the 2007 World Cup. The Koreans picked up their fourth win of the tournament, 25-16, 25-17, 25-12 at Park Arena Komaki. Bae Yoo Na led the Koreans with 17 points. The 17-year-old ended the World Cup with a very creditable 126 points, second on the Korean team to star spiker Kim Yeon Koung whose seven points against Kenya gave her a tournament total of 135 points. South Korea Coach Lee Jung Chul: “We've managed to get to 11 games, but we felt pressure from the very beginning because of injuries to our players. But actually we did OK.”
9. Dominican Republic
MVP: Simona Gioli (Italy)
Best Scorer: Katarzyna Skowronska (Poland)
Best Spiker: Nancy Carrillo (Cuba)
Best Blocker: Simona Gioli (Italy)
Best Server: Yanelis Santos (Cuba)
Best Setter: Helia Souza “Fofao” (Brazil)
Best Libero: Paola Cardullo (Italy)
FIVB MEN’S WORLD CUP STARTING ON SUNDAY
The first three berths for the Men’s Volleyball Olympic Games will be decided by the World Cup. The Men’s tournament will start in Saitama and Matsumoto on Sunday.
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 website (www.fivb.org).
“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 U.S.A. player, Stacy Sykora.