From Poland with love: Brazil win again

Carvalho Jaqueline (BRA) spikes against Glinka and Skowronska (POL)

November 16, 2005 -- Brazil set their sights on a first World Grand Champions Cup title for women after winning their second successive game in Tokyo on Wednesday. Brazil followed up a 3-2 victory over China on Tuesday with a 3-0 success (26-24, 25-18, 25-21) over Poland, the European champions.

Head coach Jose Guimaraes spoke of his intent to add the World Grand Champions Cup to the World Grand Prix title his team also won in Japan this year. "It is a very important competition for us because it involves the top teams from every continent," he said. "We have not had good results in the past. We finished fourth in 2001 and third in 1997, so we would like to do better this time."

Brazil's title charge is being led by Welissa "Sassa" Gonzaga, who top-scored with 20 points, comprised of 15 kills, three aces from her blockbuster serve and two blocks. Sheilla Castro is also enjoying a fine tournament, and contributed 17 points against Poland. Poland's head coach, Andrzej Niemczyk, described the result as "a present for Brazil from Poland" because his team had made so many mistakes, but said they would learn from it and beat them next time.

In the first match of the day, USA downed China 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 26-24) to improve their win-loss record to 2-0. Coached by Jenny Lang Ping, China's national coach from 1995 to 1998, the Americans outclassed the reigning Olympic champions and World Grand Champions Cup holders, who slipped to their second successive defeat. Asked for her feelings on facing her home country, Lang said that, as a member of the international sports community, she had to be professional and do her job. "When I coached China I wanted to win. When I coached in Italy for six years I wanted to win. And now I am coaching the USA I want to win," said Lang, who began her work in the States in May. "I have been concentrating on the little things, such as passing and defence, and I am happy to see an improvement and more consistency. The last time we played China we lost 3-0, but this time I thought we might win one set. In the end we got more." China had no answer to the slicing, left-handed spikes of Nancy Metcalf, nor the dominating net play of the towering Tayyiba Haneef.

In the Japan-Korea evening extravaganza, the home team won a typically hard-fought match 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) to improve to 1-1, while Korea slipped to 0-2. Korea had three set points in the second set, but Japan showed their character, roared on by a sell-out crowd.

USA and Brazil lead the standings going into Thursday's travel day at 2-0, followed by Japan and Poland at 1-1 and China and Korea at 0-2. The action resumes Friday in Nagoya.

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