Suphan Buri, Thailand, July 7, 2003 - Following the completion of the roun-robin preliminaries four teams, Venezuela, Slovakia, Poland and Morocco crashed out from the
2003 World Boys’ Under-19 Volleyball Championship after they all finished in fourth place in their respective groups on Monday.
On the day when every team fought all-out in order to escape
an early exit from the competition, unbeaten Russia, who have yet to drop a set, struggled
to beat lacklustre Slovakia 28-26 25-18 25-17 on Monday, while Asian
champions India also finished the pool play with three straight-match victories after
beating the Czech Republic 25-20 25-15 25-16.
European champions Russia started strongly in their match against Slovakia. The Slovaks
needed a “must-win-in-three-sets” match against the Russians since they had
yet to win a match in the preliminaries but the all powerful attack of Russia, led by Alexei Ostapenko, was too much.
Although Slovakia excelled on defence, Russia held their nerve to clinch the gruelling first set 28-26.
Russia's more aggressive game bore fruit in the second set as they led
from start to finish, winning 25-18. A big thumbs-up hasd to go to their excellent
teamwork, unchallenged tactics and height advantage at the net.
Russia remained in form in the third set, where they held a 19-14 advantage,
thanks to hard-hitting Anton Bessonov’s splendid form. As expected, the
Russians captured the set 25-17 and the match.
“We trained hard in preparation for the world meet, but we are unfortunate
to crash out from the world meet just in the first round." Slovakia coach Ivan Hiadlovsky said. "We should win the
first set, but luck was not with our side. We had too much pressure.
However, I think my boys played well with good serves and combination. I
admit that we could have yet matched Asian styles like China. As far as I’m
concerned, Russia were not at their best today. That’s why we almost beat
them in the first set.”
“We suffered on receiving in the first set, but we could make a comeback
attempt in the following two sets," Russian head coach Serguei Chliapnikov said. "I’m happy with my boys’ form although they are not playing well. Though we could advance to the next round by
topping Group B, I admit that we have more to learn, particularly when
strong teams will mount a major challenge against us in the next rounds,”
The other matches saw the towering Australian side end Thailand's challenge after beating the hosts 25-21 25-20 25-18, while Iran downed Italy in four sets 25-22 24-26 25-21 25-19. Puerto Rico beat Venezuela with
a scintilating come-from-behind victory 20-25 25-23 25-21 25-23, China stunned the
African champions Egypt in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-21 25-21 15-25
23-25 15-10, the Netherlands outclassed Morocco in straight sets 25-20 25-21
25-21 and defending five-time champions Brazil came from behind to tame
Poland 21-25 25-17 25-14 25-19.
After the conclusion of the group round-robin preliminaries on Monday,
Australia top Group A, with Puerto Rico, hosts Thailand and Venezuela
finishing second, third and fourth places respectively. Russia top Group B,
while China, Egypt and Slovakia in second, third and fourth places.
Asian champions India captured the top spot in Group C, followed by Brazil,
Czech Republic and Poland while Iran top Group D, with the Netherlands, Italy
and Morocco finishing second, third and fourth places respectively.
With only three teams from each group making to the next round, Venezuela,
Slovakia, Poland and Morocco were eliminated from the 2003 world meet. The
drawing of the elimination play-off for teams finishing second and third
places as well as the seeding play-off for teams topping each group would
take place late on Monday night.