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Top two-ranked teams face off in opener
ATHENS, 13 August – Women's Volleyball preliminary-round matches start Saturday.
In Pool B, Cuba, the reigning Olympic champion and ranked 5th in the world, opens against Germany at 09:00 as clear favorite with Germany ranked 11th in the world.
At 11:00, Dominican Republic will try to stop the traditionally strong Russians in Pool B. The Central Americans, led by Annerys VARGAS VALDEZ and Evelyn CARRERA PICHARDO, base its hopes on the team's enthusiastic and fast style of play. The Russians will try to take advantage of the height and power of Ekaterina GAMOVA, Evgenia ARTAMONOVA, Elizaveta TICHTCHENKO and Anastasia BELIKOVA.
Two-time Olympic champions Japan take on Brazil at 14:00 in the first match of Pool A. Tomoko YOSHIHARA, Yoshie TAKESHITA, Mijuki TAKAHASHI are top players for Japan but Brazil, who are coming off a World Grand Prix title win earlier this month, are expected to begin their cruise to the gold with an easy win. Erika COIMBRA, Fernanda VENTURINI and Virna DIAS are the leaders of this deep Brazilian squad.
Hosts Greece face Kenya at 16:00 in Pool A. Neither team are favourites, but the winner of the match will still have a chance to qualify for the quarterfinals. The Greek team could be inspired by the passionate Greek crowd.
Korea and Italy play at 19:30 in Pool A. The quick style of Sa Nee KIM and Kwang Hee CHOI comes face-to-face with Italian stars Francesca PICCININI, Darina MIFKOVA, Elisa TOGUT and Paola CARDULLO.
The World Cup champions China and the top-ranked United States meet in the day's final match. China, led by Kun FENG, Jing CHEN and Ruirui ZHAO would like to repeat their 1984 gold medal at the Los Angeles Games.
The U.S. team, led by Logan TOM, Prikeba PHIPPS and Stacy SYKORA, have their own dream of winning gold, which they last achieved at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
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Great rivalry to continue at Athens Games
ATHENS, 13 August – Fans of Volleyball will be hoping for a continuation of one of the great battles of Olympic sport at the Women's tournament at the Athens Olympic Games if Japan and Russia come face-to-face.
While they have been drawn in different pools for the first part of the tournament, there is every chance they could meet in the latter stages.
The two teams have dominated the Women's section since their sport was introduced at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and their duels have always provided Volleyball fans mouth watering action.
Under the technical instructions of Hirofumi DAIMATSU, who was nicknamed “The Tyrant” because of his strict and tough training methods, hosts Japan won all five matches including the critical head-to-head with the USSR (3-0) and celebrated the first Olympic Volleyball gold medal.
Four years later, in Mexico City, the Soviets did not miss the opportunity to take golden revenge for their 1964 defeat.
The match between the two dominant teams of the ‘60s and ‘70s was a thriller, with plenty of exciting rallies before the Soviets grabbed a four-sets win (3-1).
The new competition format at the Olympic Games of Munich 1972 was in the format of knockout matches and a final.
It was little surprise that the USSR and Japan were the two teams that met in the final.
Guided once again by Liudmila BULDAKOVA, Vera GALUSHKA, Tatyana SARYCHEVA, Galina LEONTYEVA and Roza SALIKHOVA, the Soviets beat Japan 3-1 to snatch the gold medal.
Montreal’s Olympic Tournament in 1976 was the last occasion in which the two great rivals met in the final.
The Soviet team could not resist Japan’s dominance and the team from the 'Land of the Rising Sun' reached the top of the podium after an easy straight-sets win (3-0).
Japan's absolute supremacy was illustrated by the fact they did not lose a single set in the whole Olympic Tournament.
Now in Athens, fans of history will be hoping the latest chapter of their rivalry continues on the court.
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Multi-continental challengers for Olympic gold
ATHENS, 13 August - Cuba is the historical favourite, but it could be time for a change at the top in Olympic Volleyball after they failed to gain a medal at this year's World Grand Prix.
The Peace and Friendship Stadium will host the Olympic Games Volleyball tournament between Saturday 14 and Sunday 29 August.
The women’s tournament features two groups of six teams playing each other once, before the top four teams advance to the quarterfinals. Thereafter matches are played on a knockout basis.
Pool A consists of the hosts, Greece, at their Olympic Tournament debut, Sydney 2000 bronze medallists and World Grand Prix holders Brazil, the World Champions Italy, dual Olympic Champions Japan, Asian qualifiers Korea and Kenya representing Africa.
Pool B includes the World Cup holders China, the World Championships runners-up the United States, Sydney Olympic Games silver medallist Russia, reigning Olympic Champions since 1992 and for three consecutive tournaments Cuba, Germany in their eighth appearance in an Olympic Games and Dominican Republic.
The defending Champions Cuba will have to try hard in order to repeat the achievements of 1992, 1996 and 2000.
Most members of the team that dominated all major Volleyball tournaments during the '90s have now retired, but there are emerging players such as Yaima ORTIZ CHARRO to add to the experience of remaining stalwarts such as Yumilka RUIZ LUACES and Zoila BARROS FERNANDEZ.
World number three Brazil appears to be the team in the best shape.
Morale is high after they became World Grand Prix gold medallists on 1 August 2004. Erika COIMBRA, Fernanda VENTURINI and Walewska OLIVEIRA will guide the Brazilian team as they did at Sydney 2000.
Italy, currently ranked at number four in the world, will try to reach the Olympic podium for the first time.
Francesca PICCININI, Darina MIFKOVA, Elisa TOGUT and libero Paola CARDULLO are the star women for the reigning World Champions.
World number five Russia traditionally flirts with the Olympic podium.
Under the technical instruction of Nikolay KARPOL, the greatest figure in Russian women's Volleyball, the "red team" aims as high as possible.
Evgenia ARTAMONOVA, Ekaterina GAMOVA, Elizaveta TICHTCHENKO, Anastasia BELIKOVA are leading an efficient team that will fight for the best placing.
The United States aims to step up to the Olympic podium again, as they did for the last time in 1992 in another European city, Barcelona.
Logan TOM, Prikeba PHIPPS, Stacy SYKORA and Heather BOWN helped the USA to number two in the world and they are capable of bringing an Olympic medal home from Athens.
China are currently number one in the world, yet they haven't won an Olympic gold medal since Los Angeles 1984.
Kun FENG, Jing CHEN and Ruirui ZHAO will carry the Chinese team at this tournament.
Asia is represented by two more teams; Japan, at number seven in the world, led by Tomoko YOSHIHARA, Yoshie TAKESHITA, Miiyuki TAKAHASHI, will try to repeat the achievements of the ‘60s and the ‘70s, while Korea, ranked eighth in the world, will rest their hopes on the fast playing style of Sa Nee KIM and Kwang Hee CHOI.
Germany, coached by Korean Hee WAN LEE, is ranked 11th in the world.
Angelina GRUEN has the ability to lead the team to victories over even the favourites.
The Dominican Republic is steadily progressing, guided by Annerys VARGAS VALDEZ and Evelyn CARRERA PICHARDO, they will try to get to the quarterfinals.
Kenya, representing Africa, is number 23 in the world.
They hope to put in a good performance with the talent of Violet BARASA, Leonidas KAMENDE and Dorcos NAKHOMICHA.
Hosts Greece are the enigma of the tournament.
In their first appearance at an Olympic Games, the Greek women, guided by sisters Maria and Nikh GKARAGKOUNI will try, with the help of the passionate Greek crowd, to surprise everyone and confirm a spot in the quarterfinals.
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Pic: The venue for Volleyball - the Peace and Friendship Stadium
Brazilian men and women aim for podium
ATHENS, 11 August – Brazil is aiming to put both its women's and men's Volleyball teams on the podium, said Erica COIMBRA after practising with the Brazilian women's team for the first time at the Peace and Friendship Stadium today.
"We are here for a medal," she said. "China, the U.S., Russia and Cuba are also very powerful. Brazil is ready and capable of having both men's and women's teams on the podium."
Added head coach Jose GUIMARAES: "We will try to be on the podium, to get a medal whatever colour it will have. I hope to do that together with the men’ s team."
The Brazilian women's team is coming off victory at the 2004 World Grand Prix in Italy last month after beating the hosts in the final, while the men's team won the 2004 World League, also beating Italy in the final.
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China edges Greece
ATHENS, 11 August – The Chinese women’ s Volleyball team beat Greece 2-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-27) in a training match today at the Peace and Friendship Stadium. The match was shortened to conform with the training schedule.
Chinese head coach Zoughe CHEN predicted that six teams would vie for medals in the Olympic tournament: China, Russia, Brazil, Cuba, the United States and Italy.
Greek libero Ioanna VLACHOU said Greece feels ready for the Olympics after friendly matches against China, Russia, Germany and the Dominican Republic.
"I strongly believe the Greek team can reach the quarterfinals," said VLACHOU.
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HART (GER): "Tough on road to quarterfinals"
ATHENS, 11 August – The German women's Volleyball team held its first practice in the Peace and Friendship Stadium today.
"Germany plays in a difficult and tough pool and we have to face very strong teams," said German setter Tanja HART. "Our goal is to qualify for the quarterfinals."
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Greece beats Germany 3-1 in friendly match
ATHENS, 11 August – The women’s Greek team beat Germany 3-1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22) in a friendly match held on Tuesday at Ilion Indoor Hall.
Head coach Dimitrios FLOROS highlighted that the team will be ready for the Olympic Games, as it is constantly getting better. All 12 players of Greece participated in the match.
Today, the Greek team will face China in a final friendly match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, at 15:00.
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Brilliant success for the Mexican heading up the world’s leading sports federation in terms of National Federations and licensed players

Athens, 10 August 2004 – The FIVB leadership, which met recently at the organization’s headquarters in Lausanne, took advantage of the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens to take a close look at the development of Volleyball and Beach Volleyball. More | Spanish | French

Pic: Dr. Rubén Acosta, FIVB President
FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta says Peace and Friendship Stadium "perfect for spectators"
ATHENS, 10 August – FIVB President Dr Rubén Acosta visited the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Tuesday, 10 August and later gave his thoughts on the venue for the Volleyball competition at the 2004 Olympic Games.
On the readiness of the venue:
"Everything is 99 per cent ready. We are here to check the other one per cent. It is necessary to change the lighting because once you have no shadows on the court, you have the best television coverage. But of course this small problem is very easy to solve."
On how spectator friendly the venue is:
"The arena is so perfect for the spectators. They will enjoy the tournament, they will have a great time. It will be a great promotion for the sport in Greece. I really think that if the Greek team qualifies for the final the stadium will be full."
On how the venue will affect the Greek Volleyball team:
"This will surely be a blast for Greek Volleyball. I am sure that the Greek players will show everybody they are fighters when they represent Greece."
On the legacy for Greek Volleyball:
"It is a great opportunity for the national federation to ask for World League finals after the Games."
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New uniforms for Greece
ATHENS, August 10 – The women’s Greek team will appear with a new look at the Athens Olympic Games, for the first time wearing a white and blue bodysuit.
The Cuban team were the pioneers in using that kind of uniform when in the late 90’s they tried out a uniform that looked like swimming suit.
The president of FIVB, Dr Ruben ACOSTA HERNANDEZ was in favour of the idea and suggested all the teams should adopt this new uniform.
"It is something new for the Greek audience to see us with this kind of uniform. The bodysuit looks good and I am sure that people will come to see us in them," said Ruxadra Codruta DUMITRESCOU.
Her teammate Eleftheria CHATZINIKOU said she liked the new uniform.
"We have never worn something like that. Sometimes we talked with the girls and agreed that we would like to wear bodysuits in the games," CHATZINIKOU said.
"Until now, only Cuba wore outfits like swimsuits and we were afraid to wear it, because the Cubans have great bodies. But now, I think that this uniform looks nice on us, it is very comfortable and very sexy!”
Sofia IORDANIDOU agrees: “It is a very feminine uniform and very comfortable. I believe that bodysuits are ideal for volleyball and I hope that this appearance brings people to the matches."
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FIVB President predicts best ever Olympic tournaments
Athens, August 8th 2004 - FIVB President Dr. Ruben Acosta today in Athens predicted the best ever Volleyball and Beach Volleyball Olympic tournaments and congratulated the Athens Organising Committee for the excellent facilities and preparations. These will be the eleventh Olympic Volleyball and third Beach Volleyball tournaments. More Pic: Medal Awards at Sydney 2000
Italy wins friendly against Cuba
ATHENS, August 8 – The Italian women’s Volleyball team has beaten Cuba 3-1 (25-14, 16-25, 25-19, 25-19) in a pre-Olympic friendly match in Verona, Italy on Saturday 7 August.
Women's head coach Marco BONITA (ITA) had the opportunity to test all 14 players ahead of the announcement of the final 12 on Monday.
Manuela SECOLO (ITA) is likely to replace Darina MIFCOVA who has a knee injury. BONITA will have a tough decision to make between middle blockers Paola PAGGI and Sara ANZANELLO.
Men’s head coach Gian Paolo MONTALI (ITA) has already announced the 12 players who will compete in the Olympic tournament. MONTALI selected Venceslav SIMEONOV instead of Francesco BIRIBANTI for the position of second universal.
The team includes: Paolo TOFOLI, Valerio VERMIGLIO (setters), Andrea SARTORETTI, Venceslav SIMEONOV (universals), Matej CERNIC, Alberto CISOLLA, Andrea GIANI, Samuele PAPI (wing spikers), Paolo COZZI, Alessandro FEI, Luigi MASTRANGELO (middle blockers) and Damiano PIPPI (libero).
Italy will return to Varese, Italy on Monday to continue training, with Luca TENCATI and Pietro RINALDI in the composition. They will fly to Athens on Wednesday.
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Greece beats Dominican Republic in friendly match
ATHENS, August 8 – The Greek women's team beat Dominican Republic today 3-1 (25-16,22-25,25-15,25-17) in a friendly preparation match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, then called on Greek fans to support them during the Games. More
Interview with Nikolay KARPOL, Russian national head coach
ATHENS, 2 August – Russia’s national head coach Nikolay KARPOL is the ultimate figure in the history of his country’s women's Volleyball.
Known for his strict style and sometimes his yelling, the twice Olympic gold medallist (1980, 1988) and two-times silver medallist (1992, 2000) expresses believes the Athens Volleyball Tournament will be “extremely competitive and exciting”.
He was interviewed today.
On the Athens Olympic Games: “In my opinion, the Athens Olympic Games will be the best ever. There is a great improvement compared to the last time I was here and everything will be perfect for the Games."
On the return of the Olympic Games to their homeland: “It’s a great moment. Greeks are going to fill all stadiums, most importantly those who live away from their birthplace and not only those who live within the borders of Greece."
On Russia’s goal at the Athens Olympic Games: “Our goal is to earn a medal."
On Russia’s main opponents: “It’s not only one. Regarding our pool, the most dangerous opponents are China, USA and Cuba and as far as the second pool we have to pay most of our attention to Brazil and Italy. Each of these teams has an equal chance of getting a medal."
On whether reigning champions Cuba are in the position to defend their title: “Cuba is not as strong as they used to be: they are in good shape and level, but not as would be expected."
On the Greek team: “I think that Greece have the ability to qualify for the quarter finals. Nevertheless, it could be difficult for them, but also a great success if they manage to qualify to the top eight teams."
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Russia beats Greece for second time
ATHENS, 1 August – Russia beat the Greek women's Volleyball team 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-12) Sunday in the last of three tune-up matches at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
Russia beat Greece in Friday's match, with the Greeks scoring an historical first victory against Russia on Saturday.
"We improved our way of play and the only problem that we have to solve is the individual mistakes in critical points," said Greek captain Maria GKARAGKOUNI. "With a lot of faith, and the Greeks on our side, we will have a positive appearance at the Olympic games."
Greece will train at the Peace and Friendship Stadium until 9 August, with friendly matches scheduled with China, Germany and Dominican Republic.
The Greek team will check into the Olympic Village on Monday.
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Historical win over Russia
ATHENS, 1 August – The Greek women's Volleyball team beat Russia for the first time Sunday in a tune-up match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium. The Greek team edged the Russians 3-2 (25-16, 25-23, 18-25, 18-25, 15-11).
"This result helps the psychology of the players, as only 13 days remain before the first official match," said Greek coach Dimitris FLOROS.
The Greeks led the match 2-0, but the Russians battled back to even the score at 2-2. The Greeks claimed victory by winning the fifth set 15-11.Greece plays Russia again today at 16.00h.
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Drawing of Lots completed
Athens, Greece, June 7, 2004 – The Drawing of Lots ceremony for the women's competitions was held at the ATHOC headquarters. More Women's Draw