Brazil join China,
Cuba and Japan in Final Round
Bangkok, Thailand, July 9, 2005 - Powerful Japan not
only gained sweet revenge over the US, but also smashed
their dreams of qualifying to the grand finals after
they staged a scintillating come-from-behind four-set
victory over the American girls in the World Grand Prix
preliminaries Group I in Bangkok on Saturday.
USA, powered by devastating Nancy Metcalf, captured the
closely-contested opener 28-26, but went down tamely to
the fast, well-organised Japan 22-25 15-25 18-25. In the
second leg Group D in Seoul, the Japanese lost to USA by
the same margin 3-1. Saturday's win raised the team's
spirit to challenge much stronger rivals who they have
to play in the Final Round in Sendai, Japan from July
Chinese Volleyball legend Lang Ping, head coach of the
US side, said in tears after her team suffered the
bitter loss to Japan that it was a disappointing match.
Her players played well in the first two sets, but
succumbed to unforced spiking and blocking errors in the
next two sets.
"We played well in the first two sets. However, the
expectation on our serves from then on could not be that
high. My girls became more tired in the third and fourth
sets which cost us dearly as we eventually lost to
said Lang, who was instrumental in lifting China to
Olympic Games victory in Los Angeles in 1984 and the
world crown in 1982.
"As far as I'm concerned, the Japanese girls played very
well on fast attacks. I admit that we already did our
best, but my girls seemed very tired from playing tough
matches day after day. With the loss to Japan, we
now have no more chances of qualifying to the finals in
Sendai. It's hard to say, but I dare say that my players
trained only three weeks in preparation for the World
Grand Prix. It's very disappointing, but I dare accept
The US badly needed all three victories including a win
over Japan in the Bangkok leg to make sure that their
chances of making the cut for the Final Round was
possible. However, the US, who sit in seventh place with
12 points in the 12-team competition after completing
their match on Saturday, already have their dreams
shattered following the disappointing loss to Japan.
Meanwhile, hosts Thailand produced a gutsy display
against European champions Poland before going down in a
hard-fought three-set thriller 19-25 23-25 20-25.
In their successive fourth attempt at the world's
premier women's Volleyball tournament, the Thai girls
have yet to win a single match since the preliminaries
kicked off on June 24. So far, Thailand, who finished a
disappointing 10th last year, have collected eight
points from eight straight losses to sit at the bottom
of the table, while Poland have 12 points from their 4-4
win-loss record to sit in eighth position.
Polish head coach Andrzej Niemczyk praised the Thai
girls, saying that if they were tall, Thailand could be
one of the strongest teams to be reckoned with in the
World Grand Prix and in future major matches.
"We played well, but a bit below par," he said.
"Thailand also played well with good defence. Their weak
point is that they are much shorter than my girls and
they could not block our spikes.
"We take on the US next and we have to beat them to help
our chances of qualifying for the Final Round in Sendai.
I think my girls will do their best to achieve this
On Sunday, the final day of the preliminaries, the US
take on Poland in a do-or-die battle. The match will
play an influential part of deciding which team will
join the first four teams - China, Cuba, Brazil and
hosts Japan -
to play in the finals. The host side goes up against
Japan in the day's second match.