FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011

Press release

The race heats up as teams prepare for final stretch


The drums announce the start of the final race for the medals at the 2011 FIVB Women's World Cup

Okayama, Japan, November 13, 2011 – The last day of the third round of the FIVB Women’s World Cup marks the start of the final stretch of the competition which grants tickets to the London Olympic Games to the top three teams at the conclusion of the twelve-team round robin event.

At Hokkado Sport Centre in Sapporo, Italy, the only unbeaten team in the tournament with a 7-0 win-loss record and 20 points out of 21 possible are challenged by European champions and seventh placed Serbia, while at Momotaro Arena in Okayama the second positioned United States (18 points and a 6-1 mark) meet the dangerous NORCECA rivals Dominican Republic.

In another intriguing contest in Sapporo hosts Japan meet a wobbly Brazil, the pre-tournament favorites along with United States, with the two teams in fifth and sixth positions respectively separated by just one point. 

The Italians arrive to their match with Serbia on the wave of an inspiring victory in straight sets over Olympic champions and world No. 1 Brazil, good for their 18th consecutive win at the World Cup, only second to the 22 attained by Cuba. Coach Massimo Barbolini hopes his side can keep the momentum going into the contest against Serbia which lost to China in four very close sets after winning the three previous matches against the Asian side. “It is not possible to win 3-0 against Brazil if it’s not perfect,” Barbolini said. Still without the services of Jovana Brakocevic and the absence of some other key players, the chances of Serbia against Italy appear to be slim but Coach Zoran Terzic expects his young team to overcome some difficulties of execution they faced against China. History is in favor of the Italian team for this one as they have won all their previous five matches against Serbia. Including results as Serbia and Montenegro, and Yugoslavia, Italy have won eight out of 11 matches, all of them since losing the first three at the 1951 and 1975 European Championships, and 1978 World Championships.

Meanwhile, the second placed USA team barely broke a sweat during the one hour and seven minutes contest with Algeria as they continued piling up points (18 and a 6-1 record) which was not the case of the Dominican Republic who had to battle for two hours and 22 minutes before pulling a surprising victory against Germany. The two teams know each other very well since they face up several times during the year at the continental level but in FIVB competition the Americans lead 10-2 in the head to head confrontations, including winning the last eight. “I think they can hurt you in many different ways, they are serving well and have some good offensive rhythm,” USA Coach Hugh McCutcheon said in anticipation to this new match against the Dominicans. The most recent match between the two saw the Americans winning in straight sets last September in the gold medal contest of the continental championship.

In Sapporo

China v Korea
China and Korea have faced each other 31 times in FIVB competitions with the former team prevailing on 23 occasions, including six out of the last seven encounters (Korea's win coming in last year's World Championship in Osaka). The Chinese have played a total of 29 sets in the tournament (tied with first with Brazil) and might be starting to experience the rigors from it so against Serbia coach Yu Juenmin started to shuffle around players in order to keep fresh those legs and arms. After losing to Brazil in five sets, the Chinese recovered from a 0-1 deficit to win on Saturday while achieving their first ever victory over the European champions after three consecutive defeats including twice at this year’s World Grand Prix. Hui Ruoqi, tied for second place with 106 points, has been a steady performer for China but as player Ma Yunwen expressed, despite some improvements the team have no yet played at their optimum level. Korea is sitting in a disappointing tenth position with 4 points and a 1-7 record.

Japan v Brazil
The pre-tournament favorites Brazil (currently sixth with 12 points) have not lived up to the expectations up to this point of the competition with still four very important matches to play. The Olympic champions and world No. 1 team must make up for the lost ground mainly attributed to three 3-2 victories (valid only for two points) and a surprising 3-0 loss to Italy on Saturday morning. Coach Ze Roberto Guimaraes admitted the extreme importance of the match against Japan team which is missing two key players as Kaori Inoue and Ai Yamamoto. Brazil is not strange to the injury bug either, as they left Jacqueline Carvalho and Natalia Pereira at home nursing physical problems and then lost Fernanda Garay during the first round in Nagano. Japan is one point ahead of Brazil despite the 4-3 record  with all the victories via 3-0 (valid for 3 points each). The historical results show a 45-11 balance in favour of the South Americans with Japan's World Grand Prix Finals victory in 2010 the only result in their favour in the last 24 matches dating back to 2002.

In Okayama

Argentina v Germany
The fourth positioned Germany (15 points and a 5-2 record) were victims of one of the most outstanding performances ever at the international scene as Bethania de la Cruz erupted with 42 points to lead the five-set victory of Dominican Republic on Saturday. Coach Giovanni Guidetti pointed out he doesn’t expect to face another 42-point show from a player the rest of the way while is confident about Germany’s chances against Argentina but keeping in mind this side was successful against the Dominicans. The South Americans had to overcome an early scare before downing winless Kenya in straight sets and currently are placed eighth in the standings. This will be the first clash ever between the two teams in an FIVB competition but as Argentinean Emilce Sosa said they will have to be at their best to have a chance against the European team.

Algeria v Kenya
The anticipated match-up between the two traditional African rivals take place at Momotaro Arena on Sunday where the winless trip at the World Cup will come to an end for one of them. The last time the two squads were pitted together was at the African Continental Championship in Nairobi last August when hosts Kenya emerged with the victory in four sets. Kenya’s Coach Paul Bitok is confident on the relatively more experience of his side but top-gun Everlyne Makuto reportedly is not at her full physical condition for Sunday’s action. Algeria’s team was limited to only 33 points in the match against United States but coach Ahmed Boukacem didn’t play Faiza Tsabet and Lydia Oulmou his two best point-producers. “Kenya is our main rival and to win we must play at our best and what we can do between tonight and tomorrow is limited,” Boukacem stated.


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