Brazil, USA secure semifinal berths at FIVB WGP final round
Macau, China, August 25, 2011 – World No.1 Brazil and defending event champion the United States secured their berths in the semifinals of the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix final round with respective wins in pool B here Thursday afternoon.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
In pool A, World Grand Prix newcomer Serbia rallied past reigning world champion Russia 3-1 while dark horse Thailand stunned the host China in four sets to make the group wide open before the last round of round robin play on Friday.
The Brazilian women subdued an aggressive Japanese team in straight sets 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 in Pool B of round robin play at the Macau East Asian Games Dome where the Americans rallied from 2-1 down to beat Italy 25-19, 21-25, 22-25, 25-22 and 15-10.
Improving their overall record in this season's World Grand Prix to 11-0, Brazil topped Group B with six points from two straight sets wins, followed by the USA team on five. The Italians, 3-0 losers to Brazil on Wednesday, were third with one point while Japan placed fourth after two 3-0 losses.
With only one match remaining for each team, Brazil and the United States have iced top two finishes in Group B with Italy and Japan to fight for the third finish on Friday.
Replacing injury-hit Steinbrecher Marianne to start for Brazil, Fernanda Rodrigues topped all scorers with 17 in the match against Japan.
Brazil took an easy first set against their Asian rivals as they unleashed their usual game, not allowing Japan to counter attack. F. Garay was stellar in attack for Brazil, scoring six points for her team as they took the set.
Despite the tandem of Maiko Kano and Saori Kimura confusing the Brazilian blockers on their attack in the second - alternating hitting on each side - Brazil adjusted their block to stamp out the Japanese tactic. The Brazilian attackers took the opportunity to further their lead before Mizuho Ishida missed an attack that closed another set in favor of Brazil.
Brazil was wary of another Japanese uprising in the third set and although there were several attempts by the Japanese to extend rallies, Brazil made sure that they always came out on top. Japan tried to make a last minute run by narrowing the score only to find F. Garay’s spectacular hitting carry Brazil to the set win and victory.
“I am happy with this result. By winning we achieve a place at the semi-final of the FIVB World Grand Prix, which is our first goal for this competition," said Brazil head coach José Roberto Guimaraes. "We played very good especially in defense. It is always difficult to play against Japan, as shown in the second and third sets."
USA outplayed Italy defensively in the deciding set to clinch the victory in the five-set marathon later on Thursday.
“Italy is a strong team, and after the match yesterday there’s no question that they will come out strong today," USA head coach Hugh McCutcheon. "I am proud of my team. We had some moments that we weren’t at our best, yet our team still battled and was able to find the way to win. So we are very happy with the victory."
Hooker scored 30 points for the United States while the Italians were by Simona Gioli with 28.
"I agree with my captain that we played better than yesterday. Actually it is not possible to play worse than yesterday," said Italy coach Massimo Barbolini. "We had our chances in the 4th set, but USA defended in a wonderful way and we didn’t have the passion for the ball. So USA deserved to win.”
In pool A, Jovana Brakocevic cashed in 25 points to lead Serbia to a come-from-behind 20-25, 25-17, 25-21 and 25-21 over reigning world champions Russia.
With their second victory in two days, Serbia led the standings of pool A with five points.
“I want to congratulate our players. It is very satisfying to win against the best team in the world,” said Serbia head coach Zoran Terzic. “We have been playing well throughout the whole World Grand Prix, and we hope to play our best game in the upcoming semi-final.”
In the last match of the day, Thailand upset China 25-12, 25-21, 19-25 and 25-17 to improve to a 1-1 win-loss record. The Thais tied with Russia on three points while China only had one point in hand after Wednesday’s full set loss to Serbia.
China will play Russia on Friday and Serbia takes on Thailand on Friday with all four teams sharing the chance to make Saturday’s semifinals.
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