Second round has arrived with promises of more exciting matches
While the United States are the lone team with nine standings points among the remaining 16 teams, other teams are right on their heels to claim one of the coveted top three positions in Pool F.
“We are here 14 players strong,” Kiraly said. “We need everybody to make major contributions, all 14 players. We will not always perform at our best. We need to figure out ways to adapt and adjust. We had a nice match against Russia (on Sunday), and it is only going to get tougher. Nobody’s going to win these matches or win this tournament without facing down major adversity.”
Team USA opens the second round versus Turkey, who will be searching for their first second round victory in the standings. Brazil, one point behind the U.S. with eight, opens against Kazakhstan, which are in search of their first second-round points. Russia (2-1, 6 points) and Serbia (2-1, 5 points) are within easy striking distance.
Over in Pool E, China holds the top position with a 3-0 record and eight points carrying over to the second round. Italy are second with a 2-1 record and seven points, followed by undefeated Dominican Republic, which only have six points due to three five-set wins.
Dominican Republic (3-0, 6 points) versus Belgium (1-2, 3 points) - This will be the first meeting between both teams at the World Championship. Dominican Republic have won their last three world championship meetings with teams representing Europe. All three matches came in 2014 and were won in five sets. Belgium have played three world championship matches against NORCECA sides. They lost their first meeting 3-0 against Mexico in 1978, but they won both of their meeting in this year's edition against Cuba and Puerto Rico (both 3-0). Dominican Republic have recorded wins in their last six world championship matches. In their last 24 matches prior to this streak, they also recorded six wins. Dominican Republic are one shy of losing 100 sets in the competition. They can become the 18th nation to reach this mark. Annerys Victoria Vargas Valdez has the most stuff blocks thus far of all players at this World Championship (22). She has also made the most blocking attempts of all players (87). Of all players in the second round, Brenda Castillo is the only with 200+ dig attempts (exactly 200). Belgium have won their last two matches in the competition. They can win three in a row for the first time since winning four straight in 1956. Belgium are making their third World Championship appearance. Of their past two, they recorded the most victories at the 1956 edition with four, a number they could equal with a win against Dominican Republic. Charlotte Leys is one of two players with double digit aces at this World Championship. Leys has 11, Croatia’s Mia Jerkov 10. Frauke Dirickx has the most running sets of all players active in the second round (115). Her 7.19 average per set is the highest among second rounders as well.
Croatia (1-2, 3 points) versus Japan (1-2, 5 points) - Croatia and Japan will meet for the second time at the World Championship. In 1998 Croatia beat Japan in straight sets. Both teams met twice at the World Cup. In 1999 Japan recorded a 3-1 win over Croatia and in 1995 Croatia won the match in five sets. Croatia have won their last two matches at this World Championship and could win a record-equalling third in a row for the first time since 1998. Back then, their third straight win came against Japan. Croatia can win at least one set in their fourth straight world championship match. This would indicate a national team record for Croatia. Mia Jerkov is one of two players with double digit aces at this World Championship (10). The other is Charlotte Leys (Belgium, 11). Japan have lost two of their first five matches in this year’s tournament. In 2010, they remained unbeaten in the first five, while losing only one in 2006. Japan have won at least one set in every match in 2010 and in every match in 2014 thus far (16 straight matches). In their past 26 world championship matches, they only once lost back-to-back matches (in 2010). This could happen again now.
Italy (2-1, 7 points) versus Azerbaijan (1-2, 2 points) - Both teams never met at the World Championship but clashed four times at the European Championship: 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Italy won all four European Championship matches, losing only one set. Italy are unbeaten in their last five world championship matches against fellow European sides. Azerbaijan are winless in their six meetings with teams from Europe at the World Championship. Italy lost against Dominican Republic last Sunday. This broke a six-match winning streak at the World Championship, their longest since winning eight straight in 2006. Italy can lose back-to-back matches at the World Championship for the first time since losing their last two first round matches in 2010. Italy have won at least two sets in each of their last 11 world championship matches, their outright longest streak in the competition. In their third World Championship appearance, Azerbaijan could already equal their best mark in terms on matches won. In 2006, they won four compared to three thus far in 2014. The Azeri have failed to win a set in their last three matches against CEV sides. Polina Rahimova is the current top scorer of this World Championship with 120 total points (100 spikes, 11 blocks, 9 serves).
Germany (0-3, 2 points) versus China (3-0, 8 points) - Germany and China met nine times at the World Championship with China winning six of those. Germany won their last two meetings in 1994 and 2006 (both 3-1). Their most recent meeting at a major tournament came at the 2011 World Cup with China beating Germany in straight sets. Germany have lost their last two world championship matches and could lose three in a row for the first time since 2006. In Germany’s last 14 world championship encounters, there have never been more than two straight matches with the same result in terms of winning and losing. Germany have won at least one set in each of their last eight world championship matches. This is their longest set-winning streak as a reunified country (since the 1994 tournament). On Sunday, China became the last nation to lose a set at this World Championship. Against Japan, they won 3-2. China have won five straight world championship matches, most since winning 20 straight from the 1982 2nd group stage to the 1990 semifinal. They lost the final in 1990 to Soviet Union. There are two Chinese players among the four most successful spikers: Ting Zhu (2nd, 48.94%) and Chunlei Zeng (4th, 47.00%).
Serbia (2-1, 5 points) versus Netherlands (1-2, 3 points) - Serbia and Netherlands met once at the World Championship. In 1978, Serbia (as Yugoslavia) beat Netherlands 3-1. Their last meeting at a major tournament came at the 2013 World Grand Prix with Serbia defeating Netherlands in straight sets. They have met eight times at the European Championship with both teams winning four times. Netherlands have won 16 sets and Serbia 13 sets in these meetings. Serbia recorded their first defeat at this World Championship last Sunday against Brazil: 3-1. They can lose back-to-back matches for only the third time (as SRB and SCG), and for the first time since losing their last two matches at the 2010 edition. Serbia have won their two matches against CEV sides at this World Championship (against Turkey and Bulgaria). They lost their last four prior to this tournament. Netherlands have lost their last four matches against fellow CEV teams. The last time they lost five in a row against European sides was in 1962-1974 (7 straight). Five of Netherlands’ last six world championship matches ended in straight sets. They won four and lost one of these. Robin de Kruijf has the most block rebounds of all players at this World Championship (36). Among all players active in the second round, two of the four most prolific diggers are Dutch: Myrthe Schoot (3rd, 3.38 per-set-average) and Anna Buijs (4th, 2.88).
Turkey (0-3, 2 points) versus USA (3-0, 9 points) - The last and only time these two teams met at the World Championship was in 2006, when United States proved too strong (3-1). Turkey and United States also met at the 2014 World Grand Prix when Turkey beat United States in five sets. Turkey failed to win a set against United States only once which was in their meeting at the 2012 Olympic Games. United States ended the first round as the only side with maximum points (15). United States can start a World Championship with six victories for the fourth time, after 1982 (6), 2002 (10) and 2010 (6). United States have won eight of their last 10 matches against teams from Europe, including both matches in 2014 (against Netherlands, Russia). Only against Russia and Italy in 2010, they failed to win. Turkey have won their last three matches against NORCECA nations (against Dominican Republic, Canada, Canada) after losing their first two (against Cuba, United States). Turkey come off a straight sets win against Cameroon. They can win back-to-back matches for the second time at the World Championships, after beating NORCECA nations Dominican Republic and Canada consecutively in 2010. Four of Turkey’s last five wins at the World Championship came in straight sets.
Brazil (3-0, 8 points) versus Kazakhstan (0-3, 0 points) - Brazil beat Kazakhstan in their only meeting at the World Championship. Kazakhstan failed to win a set in this match. Their last match-up came at the 2013 World Grand Prix. Again, Brazil beat Kazakhstan in straight sets. Brazil are unbeaten in their last four world championship meetings with teams representing Asia. Brazil have lost only two of their last 28 world championship matches. Both defeats came in finals against Russia (2006, 2010). Brazil have lost at least one set in each of their last two world championship matches. Jaqueline Pereira De Carvalho Endres is the only player with a spike success rate higher than 50% at this World Championship (52.13%). Kazakhstan have won back-to-back matches at the World Championship for the first time in history (against Mexico, Thailand). Both matches ended in straight sets. Of their first 13 matches of the competition, they won only one (against Cameroon). Kazakhstan can win at least one set in three consecutive matches. They have managed this once before in the tournament, in 2010.
Bulgaria (1-2, 3 points) versus Russia (2-1, 6 points) - Bulgaria are winless in their six meetings with Russia at the World Championship. In these meetings they succeeded to win only one set. It is Bulgaria's worst record against teams from Europe having won at least two sets against any other CEV team. Bulgaria beat Russia once at a major tournament: 3-0 at the 1981 European Championship. Last Sunday, Russia’s 17-match winning streak came to an end as they lost 3-1 against United States. It was their first defeat in the competition since 12 November 2006, when they lost 3-1 against Brazil. Russia have never lost back-to-back matches at the World Championship since the dissolution of Soviet Union. Soviet Union most recently lost two straight in 1986, against East Germany and China. The reigning champions are unbeaten against CEV sides since competing as “Russia” (since 1994) at World Championship. They won all 16 matches including nine in straight sets. Bulgaria are on a three-match winning streak. They can win four straight for the first time since 1978-1982. Bulgaria have won their last two matches in straight sets and can record three consecutive wins by a 3-0 score line for the third time in history and for the first time since the 2002 edition. Bulgaria are one win shy of becoming the ninth nation with 50+ victories in the competition.