Tokyo, 9th November 2007 – The 6th day of competition at the FIVB World Cup 2007 ended with U.S.A. and Italy much closer to the final goal: the podium and a place at the Olympic Games in Beijing. While U.S.A. got rid of Dominican Republic, Italy showed their best match of the event so far, beating Poland with an outstanding 3-0. The big match against the former Italian Head Coach, 2002 World Champion Marco Bonitta, and the new men on the bench of “Azzurre”, Massimo Barbolini, ended updating the win-loss record of Italy to 6-0, same as U.S.A.
It was cold outside in Sapporo's winter sunshine, but Italy were red hot in their 3-0 victory over European rivals Poland on Friday. The European champions extended their win-loss record to 6-0 with another polished performance, brushing aside the team of former Italy coach Bonitta 25-15, 25-15, 25-18 to drop the Poles to 2-4. With Kenya and Peru next up for Barbolini's brilliant blues at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre, Italy have a wonderful opportunity of heading for the Nagoya climax at 8-0 and looking good for Beijing. Massimo Barbolini was really satisfied for his team: “I think we played the best match until now in this competition. We beat a team at the same level as Cuba and the United States, so for us it was a very difficult match. But we played our own Volleyball with good defence and good tactical work on the block and very, very extraordinary playing the first ball after reception.”
World No. 9 Serbia improved their World Cup win-loss record to 5-1 with a routine 3-0 victory over 18th-ranked Kenya on Friday. The 2006 World Championship bronze medallists won 25-15, 25-16, 25-10 to drop the African champions to 0-6. The Kenyans are still waiting to celebrate their first set after six straight sweeps - and that will be quite an occasion when it happens, judging by their high spirits and exuberance on court. “As the tournament continues” said Kenya Head Coach, Sammy Kirongo “we are going to give our best so that the people of Japan, the sponsors and everyone connected with the World Cup will be happy. I want to promise we are learning a lot, especially today against Serbia, and please give us support.”
Japan returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Peru on Friday night. After a bright start, Japan faded in the third set but regrouped in time to record a 25-18, 25-13, 22-25, 25-19 victory and improve their World Cup win-loss record to 4-2. Peru, with only 11 players on the team sheet due to a back injury for Baylon, dropped to 1-5 but produced some scintillating volleyball in the third set. Kana Oyama was called out the bench to give help: “I only played a little bit today but I would like to think as a team what we should do in a game. By entering the game and joining the team members I would like to get blocking points. Today I could only get one block point, and I would like to rethink my attacks.”
Thailand, still seeking their first win in the World Cup, put on an impassioned performance against Brazil at Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium on Friday but were unable to hold off the South American giants, falling 25-12, 25-13, 25-20. Brazil now has a 5-1 record. Thai coach Srisamutnak Nataphon said his team was gaining experience from playing against the world's best teams and his players got a first-hand look at some of the best teachers in the game. The Brazilian setter Fofao stresses the value of Thailand. “We had a good match against Thailand, who were very well organized. They are very different from some of the other teams we have played so far. But as the match wore on, we felt comfortable and the team condition was good.”
The United States rolled to a 6-0 tournament record by overcoming the Dominican Republic three sets to one. The U.S. triumphed 25-16, 20-25, 25-16, 25-18. The United States came to Kumamoto with a 5-0 record and with a tough win over Brazil under their belts. Coach Lang Ping had rotated her players so that all had plenty of tournament playing time. The Dominican Republic on the other hand could only boast one win but still had the tournament's highest scorer: Bethania De La Cruz, who had 91 points going into this game. But in this game, the Dominicans showed that theirs is not a one-woman team. Jenny Lang Ping, U.S.A. head Coach, was worried at the end: “We know the tournament is very long so we want to switch a few different players. I think the Dominican Republic played very well, especially Bethania De La Cruz and Sidarka Nunez, two young players; unbelievable talents. We're happy with the quality of the game but our concentration wasn't so good.”
Cuba survived their fourth five-set match of the World Cup to edge the ever-improving South Koreans 25-20, 17-25, 19-25, 25-21, 15-10. Having won their last two games after starting the competition with three losses, the Koreans were hoping to maintain their momentum, but they were up against one of the strongest teams in the competition in Cuba and it was always going to be a tough game. Cuba were also coming off the back of two wins - including a big five-setter against Poland - and were starting to find their form, especially the magnificent Yumilka Ruiz (72 points before this match) and second-highest top scorer Nancy Carrillo (66 points). Cuba Captain Yumilka Ruiz was tired but happy: “Korea always play strongly. They have a great fighting spirit and always try to find weak spots in our game. In the fourth and fifth sets, we finally recovered our spirit and were able to win.”
The 3rd Round will continue tomorrow in Sapporo and Kumamoto.
COMPETITION SCHEDULE (3RD ROUND)
City date Loc. time GMT time
Sapporo 10 Nov 14,05 05,05 Italy – Kenya
Sapporo 10 Nov 16,35 07,35 Peru – Serbia
Sapporo 10 Nov 19,30 10,30 Japan - Poland
Kumamoto 10 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba – Dominican Rep.
Kumamoto 10 Nov 15,05 06,05 Thailand – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 10 Nov 18,05 09,05 Brazil - Korea
Sapporo 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Italy – Peru
Sapporo 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Poland – Serbia
Sapporo 11 Nov 18,00 09,00 Japan - Kenya
Kumamoto 11 Nov 12,35 03,35 Cuba – Thailand
Kumamoto 11 Nov 15,05 06,05 Korea – U.S.A.
Kumamoto 11 Nov 18,05 09,05 Brazil – Dominican Rep.
STANDINGS AFTER 1st DAY OF THE 3rd ROUND
Italy and U.S.A. 12; Brazil and Serbia 11; Japan and Cuba 10; Poland and Korea 8; Dominican Republic and Peru 7; Thailand and Kenya 6 (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 website (www.fivb.org).
“FOLLOW ME” BY ANDREA ZORZI: THE KEY OF THE JAPANESE SET
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 published today it’s an interview with Japanese captain and setter Yoshie Takeshita.