FIVB Men’s World Cup moves to Tokyo for final three days of play
The FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2011 comes to the final three days of competition with lots at stake in Tokyo – three 2012 Olympic Games bids are up for grabs with a handful of teams still in the hunt.
Yoyogi National Stadium, Site A for the fourth round, starts with Brazil versus Iran at 11.00, followed by Poland against Italy at 15.00 and Russia challenging host Japan at 18.20. Across town at Site B’s Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, the fourth round begins with Serbia playing Egypt at 11.00, followed by Cuba versus China at 15.00 and Argentina against United States at 18.20.
Poland (7-1, 22 points) rank atop the World Cup standings through eight matches, but must face the top three teams in the world – No. 1 Brazil; No. 2 Russia and No. 3 Italy. Russia (7-1, 21 points) are on Poland’s heels, trailing by just one point in the standings. Brazil (5-3, 16 points) hold on to fourth place and one point out of the medal standings with three matches left. Cuba (5-3, 14 points) are fifth in the standings, followed by Iran (5-3, 12 points) and USA (5-3, 12 points) in sixth and seventh place. Argentina (3-5, 9 points) are in eighth place, followed by host Japan (2-6, 8 points). Serbia (2-6, 6 points) are in 10th place, while China (1-7, 4 points) and Egypt (1-7, 3 points) round out the standings.
All told, the 12 World Cup teams will play 11 matches each over a 15-day schedule with the top three teams earning a berth into the 2012 Olympic Games.
Brazil versus Iran
Brazil entered the third round with a 4-1 record, but absorbed losses to Cuba (3-2) and Serbia (3-1) at Hamamatsu to fall to 5-3 overall and 16 points. Earlier in the tournament Brazil have defeated Egypt (3-0), USA (3-1), Russia (3-0), China (3-2) and Argentina (3-0), but also took a first-round loss to Italy in a five-set marathon (22-20 in the fifth set). Like Brazil, Iran started the third round with a 4-1 record, but did not fare as well in the third round with two losses in three matches including a 3-0 setback to previously winless China. Iran, 5-3 overall with 12 points, hold wins over tournament leader Poland (3-2), Argentina (3-2), Serbia (3-2), Egypt (3-0) and host Japan (3-0) with losses other losses to Cuba (3-0) and USA (3-0).
Brazil’s Murilo has scored 102 points in the tournament with a fourth-best 50.3 attack percent, while Leandro Vissotto Neves has charted 89 points and Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba) 88 points.Brazil libero holds a 57.63 efficiency percent for second in Best Receiver as part of being the top-rated libero. Seyed Mehdi Bazargarde leads Iran with 87 points, while Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi has contributed 73 points. Alirza Nadi ranks second in Best Blocker with 0.87 per set.
Brazil have won the only two meetings with Iran, the Asia Confederation champions. The South American champions topped Iran in four sets during the 2009 FIVB Grand Champions Cup in Osaka. The first meeting was during the 1991 FIVB World Cup in with the Brazilians won in straight sets.
Poland versus Italy
Poland, winners of three straight matches and with an overall 7-1 record and 22 points, have continued to hold pace atop the FIVB World Cup standings having won seven of eight matches heading into the final round. Poland have also defeated Cuba, Argentina, Japan, Serbia, China and Egypt, while their only loss is to Iran on the fourth day of competition.
Italy improved to 6-2 with 17 points for fourth place following consecutive wins over Serbia and Argentina in four sets to end the third round in Hamamatsu. After a tournament-opening four-set loss to Russia, Italy came back to defeat Egypt (3-0), Brazil (3-2), China (3-0) and USA (3-1) before a four-set loss to Cuba.
“We’re tired but we still expect a top three finish and an Olympic ticket,” Italy captain Cristian Savani said. “Our goal is to do as well as we can now in the final round.”
Poland have used a balanced offense with Zbigniew Bartman and Bartosz Kurek scoring 106 and 105 points, respectively, while Michal Winiarski has contributed 87 points and Piotr Nowakowski 81 points. Marcin Mozdzonek leads the tournament in block average at 1.00 per set. Michal Winiarski leads the Best Receiver list with 58.08 efficiency percent. Italy’s Michal Lasko continues to lead the tournament in scoring with 165 points. He also ranks atop the Best Spiker category with a 54.4 spike percent. Italian captain Cristian Savani has added 108 points through the first eight matches, followed by Ivan Zaytsev’s 90 points.
The Italy-Poland series seems to have been very balanced with the Italians holding an 11-10, but Italy have won the last five matches and Poland captured the first eight matches in the series. Italy scored 3-0 wins at the European Championship and FIVB World League Final Round preliminary pool earlier this year. Poland’s last victory over Italy was a five-setter during the 2002 FIVB World Championship first round.
Japan versus Russia
Russia continue to be on a roll with four straight victories, improving to 7-1 in the tournament with 21 points following a four-set win over Cuba after wins over Serbia (3-0) and Argentina (3-0) in the third round. Russia have only lost to No. 1 Brazil (3-0) on the fourth day of competition. Other Russia victories include Italy (3-1) on the opening day, China (3-0), USA (3-0) and Egypt (3-1). Japan had their two-match win streak snapped by the USA to end the third round with a 2-6 record and eight points.
Russia are paced by star Maxim Mikhaylov, who has 141 points for third-most in the tournament and a second-best 53.5 spike best percent. The rest of the team has experienced balanced scoring with Sergey Tetyukhin next on the squad in scoring 66 points. Alexander Butko holds 7.74 running sets average for third in Best Setter. Japan’s Kunihiro Shimizu paces the host country with 115 points for seventh in Best Scorer. Takeshi Nagano paces Japan with a tournament-best 2.16 digs per set and is rated as the second-best libero.
“Japan has their home crowd behind them, and they have lots of support,” Russia coach Vladimir Alekno said. “We need to prepare well for them. It won’t be an easy game, but we’ll do our best.”
Japan and Russia have a long history of international competition, but the series has been one-sided with Russia leading 51-10. Russia won all four FIVB World League matches earlier this year and have won the last five matches in the series and 24 of the last 25 matches dating back to the 1993 FIVB World League. Japan’s last victory was during the 2009 FIVB World League.
Fourth Round Pool B at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
Serbia versus Egypt
Serbia improved to 2-6 in the tournament with six points after ending the third set with an impressive four-set win over No. 1 Brazil. Serbia had entered the match with only one other win – a five-set win over host Japan. Egypt are currently 1-7 in the FIVB World Cup with three points, their only win against No. 10 China.
Ivan Miljkovic has scored a Serbia high 108 points through the first eight matches ninth place, while Milos Nikic has provided 63 points despite missing action during the tournament. Nikola Rosic has provided Serbia with 2.16 digs per set for second in Best Digger. Egypt’s Ahmed Abdelhay has pocketed 121 points in the first eight days of competition to lead his team and rank fifth among all players, while also converting 52.4 percent of his attacks for third-best in the tournament. Teammate Mohamed Badawy follows with 69 points.
Serbia have won all seven meetings with Egypt with last previous meeting taking place at the 2008 Olympic Games. Serbia won all four matches played during the 2007 FIVB World League in straight sets. The series started in 1995 with Serbia, playing under the Yugoslavia flag.
Cuba versus China
Following the third round in which they defeated No. 1 Brazil and No. 3 Italy before falling to No. 2 Russia, Cuba are 5-3 in the tournament with 14 points and still in the chase for one of the three Olympic Games tickets awarded at the FIVB World Cup. Earlier in the tournament Cuba defeated Iran (3-0), Japan (3-0) and Serbia (3-1) with losses to Poland (3-0) and Argentina (3-1). China, 1-7 and four points, head to Tokyo on the heels of their first win of the tournament, a three-set victory over Iran on November 29 in Fukuoka. Prior to the victory, China had earned only one point – a five-set loss to No. 1 Brazil, which showed they could play with the top teams at the FIVB World Cup.
Cuban Fernando Hernandez Ramos has piled up 152 points, second most in the tournament during the first eight matches heading into the final round. He has been supported by Cuba captain Wilfredo Leon Venero, who has 120 points for sixth place. Isbel Mesa Sandobal ranks fourth in blocks with 0.83 per set. China are led by Weijun Zhong’s 83 points, while Chen Zhang has scored 66 points. China’s Runming Li ranks second in Best Setter with 8.19 running sets average.
“As for the third round games in Hamamatsu, we’re satisfied with the result,” Cuba captain Wilfredo Leon Venero said. “We had two wins and a loss. For the final Tokyo round, we’ll do our best to play better there.”
Cuba and China have played 14 times and Cuba winning 11 of those matches. The last four matches occurred during the 2004 FIVB World League with the two teams splitting the matches winning on their home court. Cuba have won all three previous FIVB World Cup matches from 1977, 1981 and 1999.
Argentina versus USA
Argentina have dropped four straight matches to Iran, Brazil, Russia and Italy after a four-set win over Cuba. Argentina are now 3-5 with nine points in the World Cup with other wins over Serbia (3-0) and Japan (3-2). USA evened their record at 4-4 with 12 points after defeating Japan 3-0 to end the third round in Fukuoka. The North Americans have also beat Egypt (3-0), China (3-0) and Iran (3-0) in the World Cup, but have fallen to Poland (3-0), Russia (3-0), Italy (3-1) and Brazil (3-1).
Argentina’s offensive leader has been 22-year-old Facundo Conte and his 110 points for eighth in Best Scorer, while Federico Pereyra has charted 91 points through three rounds. Argentina setter Luciana DeCecco leads the tournament in setting with 9.35 running sets average .USA’s Clayton Stanley has totaled 126 points for fourth most in the tournament, including a tournament-high 17 aces for a 0.65 average per set along with a third-best 0.85 block average. Matthew Anderson has added 102 points for the USA, while Richard Lambourne is third in Best Digger with 1.92 per set.
“They are a very good team with consistent blocking and defense; very organized,” Argentina coach Javier Weber said of the USA. “For us it’s very important to play our style, and we expect too a very hard match against the USA.”
USA have won 12 of 14 matches with Argentina, including a four-set victory during the 2010 FIVB World Championship first round in Reggio Calabria, Italy. USA have won the last two matches with Argentina’s last series victory coming in the 2000 Olympic Games. During the 1999 FIVB World Cup Final Round held in Tokyo, USA won in three sets with a thrilling 38-36 third set.