In Pool 13 victory for Canada and USA, respectively against China and Japan. In Pool 14 Poland beat Argentina in a thriller match lasted five sets, while Italy destroy Serbia despite playing without top scorer Nelli. In Pool 15 Iran win in four sets against Portugal in their first ever world-level match, and France destroy Australia in straight sets. In Pool 16 another defeat for Germany, against Russia this time, and clear victory in four sets of Brasil over Bulgaria.
In Pool 13 victory in four sets for Canada over China. John Gordon Perrin and Ryan Joseph Sclater was the top scorers of the match scoring 20 points each on the winning side, while Qingyao Dai notched 15 for China.
On the same Pool, the hosts of USA destroy in straight sets Japan (25:15, 25:19, 25:19) without any difficults. Taylor Sander and David Smith were top scorers on the winning side with 13 points each, including 6 winning blocks for the second! Also Issei Otake scored 13 for Japan.
USA Captain Taylor Sander: “I was happy to be back in the States playing. I was just having fun and playing free. My teammates were helping me stay loose and be myself. So it was a good match. It felt good to get that win and we’re excited to play tomorrow night. I haven’t played in the States in a long time. I was with my baby last summer. Being able to play in front of a home crowd is something special. Thanks to all the fans who came out. We always have concerns with Canada so we’re going to prepare well and hope to play with some good energy tomorrow night. We’re always expecting them to serve tough. That’s one of their strongest things. They’re a little bit smaller in their block so they have to serve aggressively. I thought we did a good job handling their tough float serves. They were missing a couple of players tonight. We were still happy with the way we competed.”
USA Coach John Speraw: “I thought we blocked the ball really well and had great energy early in the match. I thought our intensity was great. But it really started with our block and defence. Great to see Thomas Jaeschke back on the court. I think the guys were excited for him and that’s a large part why I think the energy was so great.”
Japan Captain Masahiro Yanagida: “The U.S. serve put too much pressure on us. We had problems passing their serves because we are saving players for the next two days.”
Japan Coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: “I’m not disappointed. We kept our starting players for the next two days. The U.S. is pretty good at serving. Our passing suffered so much. Today was not our day.”
In Pool 14 Poland had a 2-0 sets lead and 22:18 in the third set against Argentina. However, instead of a straight-set win, an almost three-hour battle occurred, ending with a 3-2 victory of the European side. Maciej Muzaj was the top scorer for Poland, that now is 6-4 with 17 points, with 15 points, while Norbert Huber made 4 winning blocks. Facundo Conte from Argentina scored 19 points. His team now is a 4-6 with 13 points. (Photogallery of the match)
Vital Heynen, Head Coach of Poland: “Getting to the tie-break in a match like this is pretty normal. This is a young team, so tie breaks are useful for the team to grow in consistency. I hope we can play another ten tie-breaks in this pool in Milan.”
Jakub Kochanowski, Poland middle blocker: “The match was balanced and we managed not to lose concentration in the tie-break. In the third set we started to struggle because Argentina entered in the match and they started to serve very well. In the tie-break we never gave up and this mindset rewarded us with the win.”
Marcelo Mendez, Head Coach of Argentina: “We struggled to understand Poland’s game plan and we committed many mistakes. We didn’t start well but during the match we improved in serving and receiving. It was a balanced match and at the end they won with a two point lead.”
Luciano De Cecco, Captain of Argentina: “We played a bit tensely in the first two sets and we managed to get better in the second one. In the third set we started to play as we usually do and we acquired confidence. We arrived to the tie-break focused and at the end nothing was missing, but we lost the last two points.”
Italy take the fourth successive victory in front of own crowd at the Palalido, a renewed hall in Milano. Italy now is 8-2, with 24 points in the 2019 VNL and they destroy Serbia, the rivals in the Qualifications for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in August, by a 3-0 (26:24, 25:19, 25,22). By suffering a defeat today/Serbia, now at 5-5 with 13 points, failed to set a new team consecutive VNL victories record of six.
Oleg Antonov was the top scorer for Italy with 14 points, including 4 winning blocks, while Simone Giannelli served 4 aces and had as much as 8 attempts in attack (made 5) which is a large number of points for a setter. Petar Krsmanović was Serbia’s top scorer with 10 points. It’s so unusual see a middle blocker as the top scorer of a team in a single match, especially if only one of those points came from the block! (Photogallery of the match)
Gianlorenzo Blengini, Head Coach of Italy: “A very good performance of the team today. We had the patience not to give up, the famous “experience” is built up exactly in these moments. Our goal was to face the other teams with tranquillity, doing our best and showing what is our game plan. This is a great venue, it’s a very bright, modern and innovative hall, it’s a pleasure playing here.”
Simone Giannelli, Captain of Italy: “We have to be modest, we didn’t do anything special today. When we win we are always enthusiastic, but we need to keep focused.”
Nikola Jovovic, Captain of Serbia: “Italy beat us today, because they played extremely well. This venue is absolutely amazing. I hope tomorrow we will play better: we also have to consider that for many players this is their first match, so we hope to improve as fast as we can.”
Nikola Grbic, Head Coach of Serbia: “Serbia missed some good chances in the first set. We made 12 mistakes in receiving and Simone Giannelli made a superb performance, he almost won this match on his own. This player made the difference in setting and serving.”
Iran are one step away from advancing to the Final Six of the competition: in Pool 15 opener of Week 4 Iran, now at 9-1 with 27 points, downed also Portugal (2-8 and 7 points) in their first-ever mutual encounter at major world level tournaments: 3-1 (23:25, 27:25, 25:17, 25,18). Amir Ghafour led his team with 16 points, while Ali Shafiei also contributed with 5 winning blocks. The Brazilian-born Caíque Silva scored 14 points for Portugal.
Portugal Coach, Hugo Silva: “Firstly, I am quite happy about our performance, we played very well in all sets, playing against such a big team was not easy at all. Iran started to play very well in the third set, I think we got stressed and lost the game. I congratulate Iran upon this victory, but we finished this game with a good feeling. This week is so important for us and with this performance I believe in my team and we can achieve more good results later.”
Portugal Captain, Alexandre Ferreira: “We could have won the game, we were quite well in the first set, even in the second set we were 5 to 0, I take responsibility for my mistakes particularly in the second set, and it seemed we were kind of tired, and those few mistakes resulted in our loss.”
Iran Coach, Igor Kolakovic: “First of all I was astonished by the great support we got in this city, Ardabil, it was vital for us to win. I also congratulate Portugal who played very well today, especially in two sets they were so close to us, they could have led the game two to zero. But we changed the team in the right moment, so we faced a very difficult game but we fought our way until the end of the game. I really appreciate this game, having gained eight victories, my boys relaxed thinking that the game against Portugal would be easy – but it was completely different. All the game are difficult and we have to respect all the teams. Portugal were very challenging for us and we very lucky to win this game. Amir Ghafour has some chronic pains in his heels and I tried to save him for bigger games.”
In the same pool France, now at 7-3 with 22 points inflicted the fourth consecutive defeat to Australia (1-9 and 7 points) in the 2019 VNL. The match ended in straight sets even if Australia missing an opportunity to take a 1-0 sets lead, as they had a 23-21. Trévor Clévenot was the best for France with 18 points, while Lincoln Williams scored 17 on the other side, while James Weir made 4 winning blocks.
France coach Laurent Tillie: “It was a strange game, difficult to control, to control the pass, the service the set, we had a lot of mistakes and we were afraid of Australia, because physically they are tall, and we had a lot of pressure, I think we had big mistakes but are lucky to win the game, we have to improve from match to match, and we cannot neglect the effect of the altitude which is 1400 metres above sea level and the ball flies differently, so we had to learn this to play well, but anyway we won and are ready for tomorrow.”
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: “We can say that we are happy because of the victory like in other games, we just played for the victory, I do not think that we played that well, because it is not easy to play here, we have to win the other two games, in each game I hope we become better and I also thank the fans for such an atmosphere. Even if it was not Iran’s game, the stadium was almost full. I hope we are going to play well tomorrow.”
Australia captain Max Staples: “Today we struggled to find our rhythm, to win the game. We had opportunities to win the game because France was a little off their game – we did not take it today, we have two more games and now it is time to recover and prepare for the two next games.”
Australia coach Mark Lebedew: “I can only reiterate what our captain said – we had really a big chance today. France were not at their best – we were not able to understand the possibility that we had today to lead the game, so it was a good win for France. I think they are very happy, we need to keep working for tomorrow’s game, though this game was not that important for us, because France is one of the top teams. What is the most important is we win the matches that we have a chance to win, specially against the other teams which are competing to remain in this league.”
By beating Germany at Week 4 opening in Pool 16 in Cuiabá, Brazil, the national team of Russia, now at 8-2 with 23 points returned to the zone in the charts that might qualify them to the Final Six, while Germany have lost the fifth successive 2019 VNL match (2-8 and 6 points). Russia was on a high level in the service, making 7 aces compared to none from their rivals. Yaroslav Podlesnykh was the most prominent player of Russia with 4 aces. Russia opposite Viktor Poleatev was the top scorer of the match, making 80% attack success rate (16/29). Simon Hirsch scorer 12 points for Germany.
Russia Captain Igor Kobzar – “It was a difficult game for us. We did not start as confidently as we are suppposed to be, so we lost the first set. But after that we found our game and in the end we won”
Russia Coach Tuomas Sammelvuo – “We did not start this match with the kind of service we want. It was a matter of confidence. I am happy for the players because they did not get nervous and stayed focused on the match. They believed in themselves and during the game they played point by point to overcome the adversary. We started to serve very well and it was a key to win.”
Germany Captain Christian Fromm – “The difference in the end was that they served better than us. They found better solutions in the spiking and we could not stop them. Then we lost some energy and it is a big disappointment. I think that tomorrow the game will be even harder. I hope we stay focused and do what we know.”
Germany Coach Andrea Giani – “We had a bad game tonight. We played better in the first set, but in the second one we committed several errors. This is the kind of match where the skills are important, but also to be ahead on the scoreboard matters. This is a young team, and when we have a lack of confidence it make things even harder.”
By beating Bulgaria at home in Cuiabá, Brazil, now with 9-1 and 25 points came very close from booking Final Six ticket. The Cuban-born Yoandy Leal made his national team debut in front of the Brazilian crowd, finishing the match as the most prolific player of the winning side with 15 points and 84.6% attack success rate (11/13)! Tsvetan Sokolov scored 14 for Bulgaria (3-7; 8 points), while Teodor Todorov made 5 kill blocks.
Brazil Wing Spiker Yoandy Leal – “It was amazing to play here for the first time as a member of the Brazilian team, I am very happy. To start this week with a good victory is important. This positive result was a motivation to keep in the next matches”
Bulgaria captain Tsvetan Sokolov – “It was a hard match, we arrived here with a different team. We tried to do our best, but Brazil has a great team. Congratulations to them, we did all we could and now we have to think ahead, to think about the next game.”
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Week 4 – Day 1:
Pool 13 (Hoffman Estates, United States):
Canada – China 3-1 (25:19, 25:23, 22:25, 25:17)
USA- Japan 3-0 (25:15, 25:19, 25:19)
Pool 15 (Ardabil, Iran):
France – Australia 3-0 (25:23, 25:22, 25:22)
Iran – Portugal 3-1 (23:25, 27:25, 25:17, 25:18)
Pool 16 (Cuiabá, Brazil):
Germany – Russia 1-3 (25:22, 21:25, 19:25, 14:25)
Brazil – Bulgaria 3-1 (25:20, 21:25, 25:19, 25:14)
Photos: volleyball.world // randomvolley.com