In Pool 9 Brazil beat Portugal despite not making a single block, while Serbia now is at 5-game winning streak! In Pool 10 Japan win a dramatic tie break against Australia, while Italy beat also the hosts of Bulgaria in four sets. In Pool 11 Iran destroy Russia in straight sets, while Canada’s Vernon-Evans first player to pass 30-point milestone in 2019 VNL. In Pool 12 USA down France to sweep Pool 12, while Argentina won the tie break against Germany.
Brazil swept Portugal on Week 3 closing in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, and now they were ruthless in Pool 9 encounter, saddening the packed stands at the Pavilhão Multiusos de Gondomar (4,000 spectators): 3-0 (25:19, 25:21, 25:18). Renan Dal Zotto’s team did not make a single block in the match, however they managed to sweep the rivals. Portugal suffered most defeats at major world-level tournaments exactly to Brazil (21), recording only one victory so far. Yoandy Leal scored 15 points on the winning side, now at 7-1, while Alexandre Ferreira made 13 for Portugal, now at 2-6.
Brazil Coach Renan Dal Zotto: “We’ll return home after playing nine matches, with a positive outcome of eight victories. It was good. The three first weeks of competition showed us that we need to evolve because even today we felt some difficulties in our setting scheme. This pool was a very good one, one of the best that we’ve played both at an organizational as well as a competitive level of the team. We continue to pursue our main goal: the qualification for the VNL Finals.”
Portugal Coach Hugo Silva: “We gave this wonderful public great exhibitions during these three competition days. It’s for them that we are here and the reply they gave us, filling this hall with their enthusiasm. We are proud of the team and of the Portuguese.”
Serbia avoided playing the seventh successive tie-break as they defeated China in four sets, also in pool 9, to equal their longest VNL winning streak (5). Miran Kujundžić was the top scorer for Serbia, now at 5-4, with 16 points, while for China, who lost fifth in a row and now is 1-8, Jiang Chuan scored 18 points.
Serbia Coach, Nikola Grbic: “We finally won by 3-1 and added the three points, this pool was very good to rotate the players, giving them more rhythm of play and I’m happy because almost everyone responded well. Final Six? Let’s see… We’ll have two very tough weeks ahead.”
China Coach, Raul Lozano: “We played a good game. We can see that the team is growing, although we made mistakes that weigh too heavily on the decision of the sets and, of course, end up taking points. We have to work hard because we need to be better and faster. It was a tournament very well organized by Portugal and with a very high competitive level.”
Serbia player Aleksandar Okolic: “We’re still not counting for the Final, let’s play and let’s see. We’re fighting for the best results and in the end we’ll see who could be better.”
Another victory for Italy, this time against the Pool 10 hosts Bulgaria, despite home opposite Sokolov’s 21 points. In Italy, Giulio Pinali was the top scorer with 17 points in a match lasted four sets (25:14, 25:20, 23:25, 25:21).
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: “We are very happy. We expected a hard match and it was one. We were constantly playing well even in the set we lost. We were focused on our performance and were trying to improve it during the whole match. For us the match was great in terms of intensity, resistance and technical elements. Bulgaria has some new players as well as some guys who came back in the team a week ago and they are not in perfect condition for sure. Sokolov for example, he is a big, big player. I like him very much! The most important competition this year for most of the European teams, including Bulgaria, is the Olympic qualification and the preparation of them is focused on being in top form at this tournament.”
Italy player Davide Candellaro: “I am happy about the victory because it’s really good to win again and again as we did here. We are young and it’s nice that we manage to find the right way to play as a team. The weekend here in Varna was great, the crowd was amazing and I am satisfied with our performance.”
Bulgaria player Georgi Bratoev: “I am a big part of the reason why we lost today. I didn’t do my job and we were totally outplayed. Italy scored 11 points from block, we – only 3. They played a clean match, almost faultless. Even without its top players Italy is still a top class team. It was another match we didn’t play the way we wanted. I hope time will change that.”
Bulgaria player Tsvetan Sokolov: “We had too many mistakes to be able to play at the level of our opponents. Italy was exceptional in receiving. I played there for a number of years but have never seen them being that good. We won the third set but didn’t play particularly well in defence. We let too many easy balls drop on the floor. I personally wasted too many counter-attack chances. It’s something we need to work on. Unfortunately there’s no time for that as we only travel and play matches without being able to concentrate on certain things.”
Bulgaria coach Silvano Prandi: “There were some brighter moments compared to yesterday’s match against Japan but for me now one thing is crystal clear – the serve is our biggest problem. I’ll do my best to correct that. We need more stability in terms of the starting line-up which I hope the return of Viktor Yosifov and Teodor Slparov will bring. At the moment we are forced to rotate way too many players. We’ll be travelling to Brazil for next week’s matches without Skrimov who badly needs rest and Nikolay Penchev who is expecting his first child.”
On the other match of Pool 10 Japan came from a match point down to beat Australia at tie break (25:18, 25:27, 23:25, 25:22, 17:15) and record its fourth victory in Competition. Australian Lincoln Alexander Williams was the top scorer of the match with 28 points but he was enough, while Yuji Nishida scored 20 for Japan.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: “It’s great to win two consecutive matches. We made a little miracle today. We suffered, made mistakes on so many important points but a win is a win. Serve is one of our main weapons, it was good today but we want to make it even better.”
Japan captain Masahiro Yanagida: “Australia is a good team. We had a tough match against them last year as well. We are happy with our performance in Varna and two wins but we want to keep playing on the same level.”
Australia coach Mark Lebedew: “At the end we just tried to play safe instead of attacking them and close the match. They kept playing their best and they got the reward for that. We have to learn this lesson. Next week we face another challenger team – Portugal – but we also play against two of the top teams – Iran and France. Sometimes it is easier to face those teams because we have no expectations. We will travel tonight and we will practice hard to be better next weekend.”
Australia player Alexander Williams: “It sucks to lose of course. In three of the sets we performed really well. It is always fun to play against Japan. I think we had 3 or 4 five-set matches by now and we lost all of them. We definitely have to improve ourselves and start winning in the crucial moments. We will put a lot of focus into winning our next week’s game with the other challenger team – Portugal. We have many things to build from this weekend and I think we can be better in the next matches.”
In Pool 11 Iran finished Week 3 of the competition in a really impressive way, with the third straight win. Supported by an enthusiastic crowd in Urmia, they reached an 8-1 win-loss ratio and swept Pool 11 with all three victories, with the last one coming against Russia. By beating them 3-0 (25:20, 26:24, 25:23), Iran ended rival’s seven-game winning streak in the 2019 VNL (7-2 record). Amir Ghafour was unstoppable in Iran, making 77.3% attack success rate (17/22) and 17 points! While Viktor Poletaev scored one point less on the other side.
Canada opposite hitter Sharone Vernon-Evans became the first player to pass a 30-point milestone in VNL 2019 as he scored in 31 in the defeat of his team against Poland in Pool 11! Poland has never lost against Canada at major world-level tournaments, making the 13th victory. Dawid Konarski scored 21 points on the winning side, now at 5-4 record), while Lucas Van Berkel for Canada, now at 4-5, notched 4 winning blocks.
In Pool 12 Argentina beat Germany in the tie-break of a highly dramatic match and did it by coming back from a 1-2 set disadvantage. Thanks to a versatile performance of Bruno Lima (28 points, including 5 winning blocks), Argentina closed Week 3 with a 2-1record, and 4-5 overall. Christian Fromm scored 17 for Germany, who suffered their fifth successive defeat in the 2019 VNL (2-7), while Noah Baxpöhler added 4 winning blocks. (Photogallery of the match).
Argentina’s coach, Marcelo Mendez: “We had good and bad moments in the game. But I am happy to have won this match because all the players went on the court. We are tired but relieved. We are going to have a tough weekend next week in Italy against Poland and Serbia. But I will continue to use all my players as we need to prepare the Olympic Qualification Tournament.”
Germany’s head coach, Andrea Giani: “We played better than yesterday, it was a tough match. I have been able to change all the players during the match so I am satisfied with that. I have seen good things and less good ones this weekend so we will keep working to prepare next week in Brazil.”
USA extended their unbeaten run in the competition to four matches.
They swept Pool 12 with all three victories, making positive win-loss ratio (5-4) for the first time in the 2019 VNL. USA downed pool hosts France, who suffered the back-to-back defeat for the first time in the VNL, finishing after Week 3 with a 6-3 record.
The USA saved two set points in the fourth set before Maxwell Holt served an ace for his team’s victory in four sets 23:25, 25:22, 28:26, 27:25.
Taylor Sander was the top scorer on the winning side with 16 points, while David Smith made 5 winning blocks! Kévin Tillie also scored 16 for France. (Photogallery of the match).
USA head coach, John Speraw: “I am very pleased with the victory obviously, the French always play so hard, they were so good at defence again tonight. It was very close, but we were fortunate to come out on top. We’ll keep adding players as we go through the summer. Thomas Jaeschke should be available next week and Matt Anderson and Aaron Russell will join at Chicago.”
France Head Coach, Laurent Tillie: “It was a great game with a high level in terms of technique and physical engagement. We were close to win the fourth set and who knows what could have happened in the tie-break? It’s a bit frustrating because we lost on details but I am pleased with the game we played. And it felt good to play at home specially here in Cannes.”
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Week 3 – Day 3:
Pool 9 (Gondomar, Portugal):
China – Serbia 1-3 (17:25, 22:25, 27:25, 18:25)
Portugal – Brazil 0-3 (19:25, 21:25, 18:25)
Pool 10 (Varna, Bulgaria):
Japan – Australia 3-2 (25:18, 25:27, 23-25, 25:22, 17:15)
Italy – Bulgaria 3-1 (25:14, 25:20, 23:25, 25:21)
Pool 11 (Urmia, Iran):
Poland – Canada 3-1 (25:20, 25:27, 25:20, 28:26)
Iran – Russia 3-0 (25:20, 26:24, 25:23)
Pool 12 (Cannes, France):
Argentina – Germany 3-2 (25:19, 23:25, 23:25, 25:23, 15:10) –GALLERY–
France – USA 1-3 (25:23, 22:25, 26:28, 25:27) –GALLERY–
Photos: volleyball.world, randomvolley.com