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Four teams from the same pool make it to the U21 World Championship semifinals

Italy emerged victorious from the toughest quarterfinal match in Ankara

Ankara, Turkey, August 30, 2013 – Brazil v Italy and Russia v France emerged as the two semifinal clashes of the FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship in Ankara.  Curiously, all four winners of Friday’s semifinals come from the same pool and already know each other pretty well.  On the first competition day of Pool B in Izmir last week Brazil managed to shut out Italy; two days later Russia did the same to France.


With three of the four quarterfinals in the Turkish capital finishing in straight sets, the thrilling five-setter between Argentina and Italy was by far the most interesting game at the Baskent Volleyball Hall on Friday afternoon.  The European champions Italy overpowered the fighting Argentinean team by 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-11) to qualify for the semifinals.  Despite a five-point series by Argentina in the middle of the first set, Italy stayed focused to take the lead in the match.  Argentina’s swift response was to claim the following two sets, taking advantage of the quite a few Italian errors. The European side reacted with an impressive 25-15 in the fourth set as substitute player Gabriele Nelli contributed as many as 8 successful spikes.  In a closely contested fifth set the gap never went wider than one point through 11-11.  This is when Italy made their final run to the semifinals.  With Luca Borgogno serving, they scored 4 points in a row to end the match at 15-11 and unleash the celebration.


In the other three quarterfinals, Brazil shut out Iran by 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-22), Russia cruised through India with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-16) victory and France destroyed home country Turkey’s dreams of a gold medal by managing a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 27-25) win.


In the play-off matches for the 9th to 16th positions in the final ranking, played in Izmir, the US team was the first to claim a victory - 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20) against Egypt.  Then one of the pre-tournament favourites Serbia succeeded in overcoming their own lack of motivation to shut out China by 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-16).  Japan outwitted Tunisia to win by 3-1 (23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-19) and Canada emerged victorious with 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-13, 25-18) in the North American duel with Mexico.


The spectators in Izmir also saw the second competition day of the round-robin fight for the places from 17th to 20th.  Estonia remained as the only unbeaten team of the four as they shut out Rwanda by 3-0 (25-12, 27-25, 25-13), while Venezuela defeated Morocco by 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 25-17) to keep their hopes for the 17th place alive.





Iran v Brazil 0-3 (21-25, 20-25, 22-25)


Brazil were the first team that earned their spot in Saturday’s semifinals of the U21 World Championship. In the first quarterfinal match on Friday, the South American side worked hard to achieve the victory over Iran, but managed to do it in straight sets – 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-22).


Alan Souza’s great performance in both offence and blocking contributed to Brazil’s domination in the first set that led to a final score of 25-21, shaped up by Leandro Santos’s fast attack through the middle for the last point.  With Iran’s captain Javad Hosseinabadi stepping up his spiking efforts, his team tried to stay competitive in the second set, but Souza’s attacks continued to create a lot of problems for the opponents and Brazil doubled their lead with a final 25-20.  Cheered on by the many Iranian supporters on the stands, the team of coach Farhad Nafarzadeh did their best to look for a come-back, but, on the other side of the net, Brazil proved way too strong.  Souza’s one-man show continued.  He added another 13 points to his tally, including the one that closed the set at 25-22 and the match at 3-0.


Alan Souza was by far the best scorer of the match as he piled up as many as 28 points for the duration of the three sets.  Javad Hosseinabadi was Iran’s top scorer with 14 points.


”When we started to prepare for his championship months ago, our main goal was the semifinals,” Brazil’s coach Leonardo Carvalho said. ”It was not easy to come to this point. We had to fight for this in the pool matches we played. Now, we need to keep calm and think about our semifinal match.”


Argentina v Italy 2-3 (20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-25, 11-15)


In a thrilling quarterfinal match on Friday afternoon, the European champions Italy overpowered the fighting Argentinean team by 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-11) to qualify for the semifinals.


Italy opened a four-point gap by the second technical time-out of the first set, but immediately after that Argentina scored 5 points in a row with Fernando Arpajou behind the serving line to take the lead.  However, the South Americans could not hold on to it any longer as Italy reacted immediately to up their performance again and rush to a 25-20 win.  Argentina’s lead in the second set went as wide as seven points at 13-6. Italy managed to catch up at 22-22, but did not find the strength to completely turn things around as Gonzalo Quiroga capitalised on the first set point with a successful block-out for 25-23.


In set three Argentina took advantage of Italy’s many unforced errors to establish control and win it by 25-20.  Italy responded with an impressive 25-15 in the fourth set with substitute player Gabriele Nelli contributing as many as 8 successful spikes.  In a closely contested fifth set the gap never went wider than one point through 11-11.  This is when Italy made their final run to the semifinals.  With Luca Borgogno serving, they scored 4 points in a row to end the match at 15-11 and unleash the celebration.


The block was the strongest weapon for the winning team in the match as it contributed as many as 16 points to the victory.  Italy’s Gabriele Nelli, who entered the court during the second set as a substitute player, piled up 23 points on his account to top the scorers’ chart of the match.  Gonzalo Quiroga scored 14 points for Argentina.


“I believe we deserved this win in the game against such strong opponents and we are ready to fight strong in next games,” Italy’s coach Marco Bonitta said after the match.


India v Russia 0-3 (21-25, 15-25, 16-25)


Russia took a total of 63 minutes to secure their place in the semifinals as they crushed their rivals India by 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-16) in the quarterfinal clash between them.


Despite making more mistakes than their opponents, the Russian side completely dominated the first set in spiking and blocking and managed to win it by 25-21.  As coach Mikhail Nikolaev’s team reduced the unforced errors in the second set, put a lot of pressure on India with their efficient serves (6 aces in the set!), and continued to show their high-class performance in offence, they cruised to a speedy 25-15 win.  Russia was far too strong for their Asian opponents in the third set as well.  Their unstoppable attacks, especially by Victor Poletaev, gave them what they needed for another speedy victory – 25-16 in the set and 3-0 in the match.


As Russia outplayed India on all accounts, Victor Poletaev piled up a total of 18 points to become the best scorer of the match.  Anup D’Costa was the losing side’s most productive player with 9 points.


Mikhail Nikolaev, coach of Russia: “We thought that the Indian team was much stronger. Of course, they have good physical conditioning, good attacks and passes, but we had the special tactics to neutralise them from the start of the match. Still, today it was not our best performance. We will try to be better tomorrow.’’


Turkey v France 0-3 (21-25, 22-25, 18-25)


France completed the final four line-up of the U21 World Championship. The French disappointed the home crowd at Baskent Volleyball Hall by shutting out the local heroes Turkey by 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 27-25) and claiming the last vacant spot in Saturday’s semifinals.


Turkey rushed off to 4-0 and 8-2 leads in the first set, but France quickly caught up at 11-11.  The score stayed level through the 19th point, but then France’s excellent blocking continued to shine and made the difference in this set – 25-21.  France started strong and finished strong in the second set.  After the second technical time-out Turkey scored four points in a row to level the score and even took the lead, but could not hold on to it.  The home guys made far too many mistakes and France did not forgive them for that – 25-22.  The third set was by far the most interesting one.  Inspired by the enthusiastic crowd at Baskent Volleyball Hall and facing a last chance to make their way to the semifinals, Turkey stepped up to the challenge.  The fierce battle on the court led the local heroes to a 24-22 advantage.  However, cold-blooded France survived three set points to emerge victorious at 27-25.


Thibault Rossard’s attacks were responsible for two of France’s last three points in the match and also for his emergence as the best scorer of the match with 15 points.  Turkey’s top scorer Gokhan Gokgoz finished with one fewer – 14.


”We were afraid of playing against the Turkish team in Turkey,” Stephane Faure, coach of France, admitted. ”We knew that they would fight a lot and that is why we were afraid in the beginning. But then it became obvious that Turkey were afraid as well. They managed to keep the pressure through the whole match, they were able to receive well and it was the key point of this match.  But we managed to play our game today. We will play against Russia in the next match and we will try to take revenge from them. We hope to win.”



Classification 9-16


Egypt v USA 1-3 (25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 20-25)


Opposite spiker Benjamin Patch and the highly performing blockers made the difference as USA took over Egypt by 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20) in the first of the play-off matches for the 9th to 16th positions in the final ranking.


Patch did a great job not only in spiking from position 2, but also with his potent spike serves. He was the match best scorer with 23 points, followed by outside hitter Aaron Russell with 17.  On the Egyptian side, outside hitter Islam Abdelkader led the scorers with 12 points.  Out of USA's many dominance factors, blocking was the outstanding one, making 13 points against 7 for the opponent.


Using the middle blockers in the fast attacks, Egypt advanced comfortably in the first set, especially with the proper attacks from Hisham Ewais and Mohamed Masoud beside the good reception and backline defence. Egypt succeeded to win the set by 25-22 after a series of attacks from all the net positions.


Aided by the deterioration of the physical state of the Egyptian players, USA controlled the match starting form the second set.  The Americans also deployed their solid block against the Egyptian offence, especially to stop the quick attacks from the middle blockers.  USA won the second set by 25-21 before the Egyptians showed some resistance in the third set where they tied at 23-23 before losing narrowly by 23-25.  In the fourth set, the motivation was higher in the US team, so they again opened a wide lead to win the match by 3-1.


China v Serbia 0-3 (20-25, 18-25, 16-25)


Unmotivated Serbia flew past China with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-16) victory in a classification 9-16 match in Izmir.  Playing with most of their available players, the Serbs, who were big contenders for the title before the competition, entered the match without spirit.  This was the case especially for their main stars, forcing coach Sinisa Reljic to make a lot of substitutions.  They proved consistent to win the match without any suffering.


Serbia's attacker Drazen Luburic led his team scorers with 19 points including 4 aces. On the other hand, China's Zhenghui Liang contributed 9 points as his team’s best scorer.


The big height difference was the key factor for Serbia to control the match.  The Chinese players tried to look for a come-back during the second set, but they failed against the sharp serves from the Serbian team.


Japan v Tunisia 3-1 (23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-19)


Japan rebounded technically and mentally from one set behind to win a thrilling clash against Tunisia by 3-1 (23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-19).  Japan's outside hitter Naoya Takano led his team and match scorers with 19 points including 3 kill blocks, followed by outside hitter Takahiko Imamura who scored 18. On the Tunisian side, opposite Adam Oueslati scored 13 points.


Tunisia started the match with the proper team and succeeded to put early pressure with their serves.  Setter Khaled Ben Slimane led the combinations using the opposite spiker Adam Oueslati and the outside hitter Malek Chekir to score a lot of points as Tunisia went to a 25-23 victory in the first set.


Japan changed the strategy using quick attacks by the middle blockers Kentaro Takahashi and Yasunari Kodama. They also improved their backline defence to win both the second and the third sets. They succeeded to maintain their good performance, while the Tunisian team could not come back psychologically and technically.  Tunisian coach Mohamed Mounir Gara reacted by replacing three main players, but the whole team was out of order.  With optimal performance by the motivated Japanese players, and especially by outside hitter Naoya Takano, they were again up to the level and succeeded to overcome the Tunisian blockers in their way to win the match by 3-1.


Mexico v Canada 1-3 (23-25, 25-19, 13-25, 18-25)


Canada retrieved the proper rhythm to clinch a 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-13, 25-18) victory over Mexico.  The key factor for the victory was the sharp serves sent by Canada which disturbed Mexico throughout the match.  The Canadians scored 8 aces, in comparison to 1 from their opponent.


Canada's opposite spiker Jayson Mccarthy was the game’s top scorer with 21 points including 5 aces, while Roberto Rincon contributed 18 points for Mexico as their side’s best scorer.


Canada had the upper hand in the first set as they served strongly besides the pressure they imposed through the blockers. Although the team captain and main setter Milan Nikic did not appear in the starting line-up, his team could win the first set by 25-23 after a great fight from the Mexican team.  Mexico's performance increasingly developed in the second set with their strong attacker Roberto Rincon playing a great role along with the blockers to maintain the pressure and to help win the second set widely by 25-19.  The Canadian team came back quickly and regained the starting rhythm to break through in the third set and entertain the game as they used the opposite Jayson Mccarthy to hammer the Mexicans with his attacks from position 2 and to win the set by 25-13.  The highly motivated Canadian team cruised through the fourth set to win by 25-18.



Classification 17-20


Morocco v Venezuela 1-3 (20-25, 25-20, 15-25, 17-25)


Outstanding opposite Jose Martinez led Venezuela to overwhelm Morocco by 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 25-17) in the second day of the round robin tournament for classification 17 – 20.  With this victory, Venezuela improved their win-loss ratio to 1-1, gaining 4 points, while Morocco dropped to 0-2.


Martinez was his team’s best scorer with 20 points followed by outside hitter Romero Flores with 11. As usual, Zouhair El Graoui led the Moroccan spikers with 22 points to stay in the lead of the tournament's best scorers’ chart.  Morocco’s blocking performance was very close to that of the Venezuelan side (11-10), but Venezuela had a wide 6-1 lead in ace serving.


Venezuela started the match more concentrated and disciplined in their reception and defence and thus they had an early wide lead using the outstanding performance of their opposite Jose Martinez, so they won the set by 25-20.  Morocco came back in the second set aided by the spikes of El Graoui to win by the same score - 25-20, before they lost the power to allow Venezuela to dominate the third and fourth sets towards the 3-1 victory.


Estonia v Rwanda 3-0 (25-12, 27-25, 25-13)


Estonia controlled all the match options to pull off a straight-set 3-0 (25-12, 27-25, 25-13) victory over Rwanda.  After this victory, Estonia improved their win-loss ratio to 2-0 gaining 5 points, while Rwanda dropped to 1-1 with 2 points.


Estonia's attackers Robert Taht and Taavet Leppik led their team scorers with 12 points each; while Rwanda’s usual point machine Aimable Mutuyimana was the best scorer of the match with 13 points.  Beside the dominance in physical fitness, Estonia was higher in blocking activity with 8 stuff blocks against 3 for the Rwandans.


Estonia started the match in their best performance as they put pressure upon the Rwandan team with their jump serves. They also blocked well against the Rwandan gun Mutuyimana and they succeeded to do that in the first set to win widely by 25-12.  Rwanda entered the game in the second set when they started to organise their attacks as they kept close throughout the set and had the opportunity to win, but Estonia picked up the crucial points to win narrowly by 27-25. Again Estonia had full dominance in the third set after the Rwandan players dropped physically.



Match Schedule for August 31














Baskent Volleyball Hall






Baskent Volleyball Hall


Classification 5-8












Baskent Volleyball Hall






Baskent Volleyball Hall


Classification 9-12












Ataturk Sports Hall






Ataturk Sports Hall


Classification 13-16












Ataturk Sports Hall






Ataturk Sports Hall


Classification 17-20












Ataturk Sports Hall






Ataturk Sports Hall




FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship - Performances


Top Scoring Performances

36 – Aimable Mutuyimana of Rwanda v Venezuela (August 29)

34 – Zouhair El Graoui of Morocco v Estonia (August 29)

33 – Luigi Randazzo of Italy v Russia (August 26)

31 – Zouhair El Graoui of Morocco v Egypt (August 26)

30 – Alan Souza of Brazil v USA (August 28)

28 – Alan Souza of Brazil v Iran (August 30)

28 – Luigi Randazzo of Italy v Serbia (August 28)

28 – Victor Poletaev of Russia v Brazil (August 23)

26 – Victor Poletaev of Russia v Italy (August 26)

26 – Yan Tingwei of China v Egypt (August 23)

25 – Willner Rivas of Venezuela v Rwanda (August 29)

25 – Pablo Koukartsev of Argentina v China (August 28)

24 – Yuki Ishikawa of Japan v Tunisia (August 30)

24 – Jose Martinez of Venezuela v Rwanda (August 29)

23 – Gabriele Nelli of Italy v Argentina (August 30)

23 – Benjamin Patch of USA v Egypt (August 30)

23 – Pablo Koukartsev of Argentina v Estonia (August 26)

23 – Uros Kovacevic of Serbia v Ganada (August 25)

23 – Mohamed Masoud of Egypt v China (August 23)


Top Blocking Performances

7 – Qin Zhen of China v Turkey (August 25)

6 – Edoardo Picco of Italy v Serbia (August 28)

6 – Diamantini Enrico of Italy v Venezuela (August 24)

6 – Walid Mehdi of Morocco v India (August 24)

6 – Takuya Takahashi of Japan v Estonia (August 23)

6 – Elyes Garfi of Tunisia v Rwanda (August 23)


Top Blocking Performances by Team

27 – Italy v Serbia (August 28)

18 – China v Turkey (August 25)

17 – Italy v Venezuela (August 24)

16 – Italy v Argentina (August 30)

16 – Brazil v Venezuela (August 26)

16 – Brazil v France (August 25)

15 – Turkey v China (August 25)

15 – India v Egypt (August 25)

15 – Russia v Brazil (August 23)

15 – Brazil v Russia (August 23)

14 – Rwanda v Venezuela (August 29)

14 – Venezuela v Rwanda (August 29)

14 – Morocco v Estonia (August 29)

14 – Russia v Italy (August 26)

14 – France v Canada (August 28)

13 – USA v Egypt (August 30)

13 – Morocco v Egypt (August 26)

13 – Mexico v Estonia (August 24)

13 – China v Egypt (August 23)


Top Serving Performances

6 – Victor Poletaev of Russia v Brazil (August 23)

5 – Jason Les Mccarthy of Canada v Mexico (August 30)

5 – Jose Martinez of Estonia v Morocco (August 29)

5 – Taavet Leppik of Estonia v Morocco (August 29)

5 – Luigi Randazzo of Italy v Serbia (August 28)

5 – Carlos ESilva of Brazil v Italy (August 22)

5 – Hosseinabadi Javad of Iran v Estonia (August 22)


Top Serving Performances by Team

12 – Russia v Brazil (August 23)

12 – Canada v Tunisia (August 22)

11 - Russia v Italy (August 26)

10 - USA v Rwanda (August 22)

10 - Iran v Estonia (August 22)


Highest Scorer by Day

Day 1: Zouhair El Graoui of Morocco v China 21 (August 22)

Day 2: Victor Poletaev of Russia v Brazil 28 (August 23)

Day 3: D'Costa Anup of India v Morocco 22 (August 24)

Day 4: Uros Kovacevic of Serbia v Ganada 23 (August 25)

Day 5: Luigi Randazzo of Italy v Russia 33 (August 26)

Day 6: Alan Souza of Brazil v USA 30 (August 28)

Day 7: Aimable Mutuyimana of Rwanda v Venezuela 36 (August 29)

Day 8: Alan Souza of Brazil v Iran 28 (August 30)


Highest Set Score

Pool A: Morocco v Egypt , 32-30

Pool B: Japan V Mexico , Japan v Estonia , Mexico v Estonia , Iran v Japan 29-27

Pool C: Tunisia v Canada , Rwanda v USA 29-27

Pool D: Brazil v Italy, 35-33

Round of 16: Serbia v Italy 30-28

Quarterfinals: France v Turkey 27-25

Classification 17-20: Morocco v Estonia 30-28


Highest Scoring Matches

Day 1: Japan v Mexico 3-1 (23-25, 29-27, 25-17, 25-16) – 187 points

Day 2: Estonia v Japan 3-2 (27-29, 25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 15-8) – 221 points

Day 3: Mexico v Estonia 3-1 (25-22, 25-19,17-25, 29-27) – 189 points

Day 4: France v Brazil 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 17-25, 24-26, 16-14) – 213 points

Day 5: Italy v Russia 3-2 (23-25, 27-25, 30-28, 11-25, 15-12) – 221 points

Day 6: Italy v Serbia 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 28-30, 15-5) – 214 points

Day 7: Estonia v Morocco 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 28-30, 26-24, 15-12) – 229 points

Day 8: Italy v Argentina 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-11) – 204 points





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