London, Great Britain, August 2, 2012 – The morning session of the women’s tournament action features two potential terrific matches as Olympic defending champions Brazil meet the world No. 3 China to open the curtains, followed by the no less appealing battle between world champions Russia and the fifth world ranked Japan.
With two days to go in the preliminary pool play it could be getting late for some of the teams who arrived in London with high hopes and are now on the brink of elimination, so a lot of intensity is expected in this crucial Friday.
The afternoon session presents the clash of Turkey against impressive Korea and hosts Great Britain playing against the Dominican Republic.
The actions conclude in the evening with pre-tournament favorite and world No. 1 United States taking on Serbia, followed by the contest of Italy versus Algeria.
Brazil v China
After winning their initial match in five sets against Turkey, the Olympic defending champions Brazil have been moving backwards by losing the next two and they stand now in an unusual must-win situation as they face the solid world No. 3 China in the first match of Friday. While China lost to the powerful USA team in three close sets, Brazil suffered a major upset to the hands of No.15 Korea. Inconsistency has been the biggest problem for the South Americans who urgently need to find solutions. The Brazilians have won the last 10 matches against China and held a 31-21 lifetime record in head-to-head clashes.
Japan v Russia
World champions Russia are on a fast track winning their first three matches against a relatively modest competition but are now in front of a real test when they face Japan’s fast tempo and relentless field defense in the second match of the day. Japan (2-1) clinched an important victory in three sets against Dominican Republic while establishing their game from start to finish. Russia’s big cannons Ekaterina Gamova and Nataliya Goncharova have been both powerful and accurate. The Russians held a 22-9 lead in their lifetime meetings but only a 6-4 margin for the past 10 matches following an amazing 15-game winning streak.
Turkey v Korea
Korea (2-1) arrive into the match on the back of a sensational victory in straight sets over Brazil which no doubt has to be an inspirational factor for the team of coach Hyung-Sil Kim. Turkey also are fresh from their first win of the tournament after subduing Serbia in three sets. Korea’s Kim Yeon-Koung is averaging 28 points per game and to have a chance against this team it is mandatory to slow down her. Turkey’s strong service game was one of the keys for the victory over Serbia. The Koreans are still looking for their first victory against Turkey after four unsuccessful tries without winning a single set.
Great Britain v Dominican Republic
World No. 11 Dominican Republic are still looking for their first victory in the tournament after twice succumbing to Italy and Russia in four sets and being subdued in straight sets by Japan. The home ladies have a win off Algeria. The Dominicans were not in their best shape in their previous contest committing many errors, especially with their wild attacks, and badly need to succeed in this match to have a chance into the next round. One bright point in the Caribbean team has been libero Brenda Castillo, who leads in the digs and libero defensive categories after three matches. Lynne Beattie stands out as British top scorer and inspirational leader.
United States v Serbia
World No. 1 USA are the only undefeated team in Pool B with a 3-0 win-loss record and the maximum 9 points. On the other hand, Serbia are still winless and going through a series of injuries to key players sustained just before the Olympics. The champions of the last three editions of the FIVB World Grand Prix triumphed in their last match against China with Foluke Akinradewo and Megan Hodge, (MVPs of the premier annual women’s event) playing key roles. Serbia lost to Turkey in straight-sets. The two teams have faced each other on six occasions with the Americans winning four times, including the last three.
Algeria v Italy
The balanced attack of Italy, masterfully conducted by setter Eleonora Lo Bianco, has been instrumental in the three victories achieved thus far by the team coached by Massimo Barbolini. The trio of Carolina Costagrande, Simona Gioli and Lucia Bosetti has performed as expected as well as Antonella De Core and the rest of the Italian cast. Algeria are going through a process of refurbishment while using the tournament as a learning experience for some of the young players in the roster. The two teams have played each other only twice with the European side winning both matches by 3-0 in the Beijing Olympics and last year’s World Cup in Japan.
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