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Argentina stun defending champions the United States on first day of Men’s World Cup

 
Argentina celebrate their 3-2 win over the United States on opening day of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup
 
Fukuoka and Nagano, Japan, October 1, 2019 – Argentina made a great comeback in the tiebreaker to win their opening match against defending champions United States in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup on Tuesday.



Argentina opened the match with a strong performance in the first two sets, pouncing on every opportunity to attack, before the United States regrouped with better plays to extend the match to five sets.

The South American team, however, gathered momentum to gain a comfortable edge. The North American squad managed to bridge the gap, but their rivals held on to protect their lead to close the match 3-2 (25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 15-12).

Four USA players scored in double figures, but Argentina had five double-digit scorers, including captain Martin Ramos who led with 20 points, Agustin Loser (18), Jan Martinez Franchi (16), Bruno Lima (12) and Ezequiel Palacios (10).



“We played really good volleyball today, especially in the first two sets where we dominated in some of the stats,” Ramos said. “Our attack was very good in the first set. In the third and fourth sets USA improved and made it difficult for us to defend, but in the tie-break we just played our best volleyball.

“We are happy for this victory. Our setter gave us plays that we needed to win, so he was key to this match victory. This was an important win because there are very strong teams here (in Fukuoka). We don’t have all our strong players but these young guys are very talented and played well. This gives us a bright future for volleyball in Argentina. For this tournament, it’s always good to start playing with very good volleyball.”

In the next match in Fukuoka, a relatively young Poland squad gave handedTunisia a straight-set 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-12) defeat. Seasoned setter Grzegorz Lomacz led the young players in the team with brilliant plays that overwhelmed their opponents, especially in the third frame, where they limited their opponents to score only 12 markers.



After a beautiful opening ceremony, hosts Japan made an impressive start stunning Italy in a straight-set match 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-21), with Yuki Ishikawa and Yuji Nishida leading the charge scoring 19 and 16 points respectively. 
Japanese setter Masahiro Sekita utilised his creativity to bring opportunities to his hitters to get past the Italian defence with varied attacks.



Meanwhile, back-to-back Volleyball Nations League champions Russia defeated Iran 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 24-26, 25-22) in Nagano. 

Russia’s Yaroslav Podlesnykh and Iran’s Milad Ebadipour staged a showdown, which resulted in both players producing 18 markers each, but the Russian team had more firepower with three other players - Ivan Iakovlev, Fedor Voronkov and Pavel Kruglov - also producing double-digit outputs for the match win.

Russia coach Tuomas Sammelvuo commended his setter Sergey Grankin for distributing the ball well to his hitters and highlighted the importance of his setter in leading the squad.

“I think first of all we have the Olympic year coming,” Sammelvuo said. “Everybody wants to be there, and for Sergey he wasn’t in the team for the whole summer and he’s very experienced and he’s a good setter. He’s maybe not a typical Russian setter, we could say. Maybe a little bit like Marouf, some fantasy and a different type of game. And also he has a huge motivation to be here, as have all the players who haven’t been in our national team. In Russia we have a lot of players, we can say. So I think that his role in this tournament is one of the key factors. He’s extremely motivated to be here.”

The opening match at Nagano went the Egyptians’ way as they beat the Australians 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18). Ahmed Abdelhay and Mohamed Masoud, who scored 14 points apiece, led the African powerhouse team to overcome a 22-point game by Australian hitter Lincoln Alexander Williams. The Australians suffered from a lot of unforced errors, while the Egyptians operated on a more controlled pace.


Brazil captain Bruno Rezende in their match against Canada in Nagano

Brazil dominated Canada 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-14) to start strong in the World Cup, where they executed a good attack and service game plan that disrupted the latter's defence. 

Alan Souza led the Brazil side with 14 points, while Nicholas Hoag and Stephen Timothy Maar each had eight points for Canada.

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