Netherlands, China upset unbeaten pair
Japan, July 17, 2005 - A team with a 3-0 win-loss record
against a team with a 0-3 win-loss record, the result
should be a formality, right? Well, in Volleyball it
isn't, especially at the World Grand Prix Final Round.
Italy (3-0) went into their match with the Netherlands
(0-3) as the clear favourites, and everything was going
with the form book when Italy won the first two sets
26-24, 25-18 on Sunday.
They even had a match point in the third set when
leading 24-23, but Dutch captain Ingrid Visser soon put
an end to Italy's hopes of a straight-sets victory.
The Dutch took the third set 26-24, and then the next
two 25-21, 15-10 to finish as the deserved winners.
Pic: Manon Flier top scored for the Netherlands with
"If you fight you can beat each team," was the
assessment of Alice Blom, who was in full bloom for her
orange team with 15 points. "Losing the first two sets
made everything more relaxed for us and there was no
tension. We just did what we could, and came together as
a team and played together."
Olympic champions China then came out and demolished
defending Grand Prix champions Brazil 3-0 (25-18, 25-17,
25-19) in the second upset of the fourth day.
As the players left the court, one of the Brazilian
technical staff commented, "Did anyone see the ball?"
Praise indeed for China, who were like a red blur in
front of the off-colour Brazilians.
This pair of results left Italy and Brazil still ahead
of the pack but now with 3-1 records, meaning the
Brazil-Italy clash on Monday will decide the destiny of
Looking ahead to the match, Brazil's captain, Valeska
Menezes, said, "It is very, very important, the final,
Brazil and Italy.
"We have seen videos of Italy and their game is strong.
I think the serve and blocking will make the difference."
In the last match of the day, Olympic bronze medalists
Cuba beat Japan in a thriller 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 20-25,
28-26, 17-15), saving one match point in the decider
along the way.
The rankings after four days are Italy and Brazil (3-1),
China and Cuba (2-2) and Japan and the Netherlands
Monday's action sees the Netherlands play Cuba, Brazil
take on Italy in the afternoon showpiece and the
all-Asia clash between Japan and China in the evening.