In Pool 13 Canada beat Japan after five sets, while USA destroy China. In Pool 14 Poland beat Italy in longest tie-break in history of VNL, Serbia won’t play F6 by losing to Argentina . In Pool 15 France end Iran’s 7-game winning streak, Australia beat Portugal in battle to avoid relegation. In Pool 16 Brazil run over Russia to take lead in standings, need to win one more point to advance to F6, while Bulgaria defeated Germany at tie break.
In Pool 13, after losing the first two sets, Japan won the next two, giving Canada a scare. But the North Americans came back to take the victory at the tiebreak at the Sears Centre and finish a sweep of their FIVB Volleyball Nations League weekend.
Canada player Nicholas Hoag: “We wanted to come here and compete. We wanted to get at least two victories out of three. The game against the United States was a very, very good game; probably our best of the weekend. That was a huge three points against a good team. Coming out with three victories is even better than expected. Japan is a very, very skillful team. I think we let our guard down in the third set. They went up three points. We came back but it was too little too late. They played a great game today. They were pretty fresh on their serves and digging a lot of balls.”
Canada coach Glenn Hoag: “I was happy with the team again. We started a couple other guys and they did a really good job. I’m really satisfied. It’s the first time we won three matches in one weekend so I’m really satisfied. We started Nick and we brought Lucas into the game. That was nice. It gave us so fresh legs. Now we travel to Brazil for another big weekend. We’re improving in certain aspects of our game. Although we’re maybe physically not all that fresh, I think we’re working on things that are going to benefit us in the future.”
Japan player Masahiro Sekita: “We really wanted to win today. We didn’t start out well. We turned it around and started working as one team and we got better. As the match went on, we made fewer mistakes. After all that, it’s very frustrating that we didn’t win.”
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: “They are a higher ranking team than us. They played very well. We played very well as a team as we expected. But they are better than us. Their defence is excellent.”
On the same Pool, the United States bounced back from a tough loss to Canada to defeat China in straight sets without lot of difficults (25:20, 25:19, 25:19).
USA player Ben Patch: “Kudos to our whole team for pulling it off and finishing the weekend with a win over a tough China team. China played well. We were just serving the ball really well, receiving the ball really well and we’re a hard team to hit against. We’re big blockers. If we’re on point with our defensive plan then it’s hard to get past us.”
USA assistant coach Rob Neilson: “We worked hard. We competed hard. I thought we came out more aggressively from the service line, which was important for us after our match last night. We got on the same page offensively. I thought Micah Christenson did a nice job setting the match.”
China head coach Raul Lozano: “The United States team is at another level technically. Without doubt, it is one of the top four teams in this tournament. I am not satisfied with the result, but I thought we played better than the past matches.”
By losing to Argentina, now at 6-6 and 19 points, in straight sets in Pool 14, Serbia said goodbye to a chance of participating in the Finals six. Serbia (5-7; 14 points) are 3 wins and 7 points behind the sixth team in the standings Poland.
Facundo Conte, Argentina: “We are playing very well at the moment, and maybe Serbia was missing something today. This VNL is a very long and tiring tournament for all athletes anyway, and maybe they are suffering from this. We are so lucky to have two of the best setters in the world in our team, and this is very important. We are very motivated to achieve our goal, we are playing at a very high level at the moment, and we want to prove our value to the world.”
Marcelo Mendez, Head Coach of Argentina: “We played very well in serving and spiking. This is a fantastic result: we wanted to conclude this weekend in Milan with a happy ending and we did it. We have to go on working though for the Olympic qualification.”
On the same Pool, the two national teams that had a lot of new faces this year, Poland and Italy, played an incredible match in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and set a new competition record! Poland beat Italy in front of their fans in Milano by a 3-2 (23:25, 25:22, 23:25, 25:21, 25:23) as these two played the longest tie-break in the history of the VNL, in which Poland saved seven match points! The two teams improved the result of the fifth set of the Bulgaria vs. Japan match played on June 15, which ended in the favor of the Asian side 21-19. Moreover, Poland and Italy played the second longest match in the Nations League history: 2 hours and 46 minutes. Poland were involved in the previous longest match in the tournament as well: on June 1, they defeated the United States after a 2-hour and 47-minute battle!
Now Poland occupy the sixth place in the standing with 8 victories and 4 defeats (21 points), while Italy are fifth with the same win-loss ratio but with 5 points more. To qualify for the Final Six, Poland will have the end the last week of a Preliminary Round with a perfect record and hope Italy will lose at least one match.
Poland’s opposite Maciej Muzaj was the top scorer of the match with 26 points, while Karol Kłos made 4 winning blocks. Giulio Pinali scored 19 for Italy.
Gianlorenzo Blengini, Head Coach of Italy: “If we want to see the glass half full, we can say that the team was able to react in various situations, which is a good mindset. Of course we are sorry because we lost the match: in these situations the details make the difference, and tonight we were not precise enough.”
Simone Giannelli, Captain of Italy: “The final result is a pity because we did our best to win the match. Anyway playing this match was amazing, a great emotion. We were maybe a bit naive and not very focused in the right moments. At the end, always a couple of points make the difference.”
Vital Heynen, Head Coach of Poland: “I really wanted three tie breaks in three days and that happened. I wanted my guys not to give up, they did it. I am really proud of them, but we cannot say we are stronger than Italy, just because of this match.”
Aleksander Sliwka, outside hitter of Poland: “We stayed focused till the end. It was important for us to be hungry. It was a tough situation to handle because we lost some important points, but we never lost our concentration. I am really proud of my team because we fought till the end. Three tie-breaks in three matches, that demonstrates we want to do our best.”
In Pool 15 France made the race for the Final Six of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball more exciting by beating Pool 15 hosts Iran. They gave Iran the real chance only in the second set, prevailing in the next two without lot of difficults to end rival’s seven-game winning streak (team record): 3-0 (25:18, 26:24, 25:21). So, France prevented Iran to have a perfect record. Both teams are among the top six teams in the standings that will take part in the Finals in Chicago, the USA.
Trévor Clévenot was the top scorer for France, now at 9-3 with 28 points, scoring 15 points, while Mohammadjavad Manavinezhad scored 10 for Iran (10-2; 30 points).
France coach, Laurent Tillie: “It was first a nice victory against Iran. We know that Iran did not play with the usual starting players, they made a lot of changes, but it was important for us to have consistency and I am astonished by the amazing fans and atmosphere. This is what volleyball needs.”
France captain, Benjamin Toniutti: “I think we played better compared with the first two days, though it was not perfect. We are happy with this game. Iran made a lot of substitutions and we took advantage of this opportunity to win. Regarding the atmosphere, it is beyond volleyball games, and we need this kind of atmosphere to play volleyball. I have played in a lot of countries, but this time, it was way different, and we really enjoyed the weekend. I thank the people for this.”
Iran coach, Igor Kolakovic: “I must congratulate the France team for this victory and I thank the support of the two cities hosting the games in Iran, Urmia and Ardabil. They supported us from the beginning of the game until the end even though we did not play well, this energy means a lot to me and my team and I apologize if we did not win tonight’s game. And sadly we lost the opportunity to qualify at home. But we will have another chance in the final week because there are three more games and I hope we play well against Bulgaria and other teams.”
Iran captain, Saeid Marouf: “I congratulate France, it was not a satisfactory game from our side. They are disciplined and they dictate their power on the court.”
On the same Pool, the match between the two teams fighting to avoid relegation Portugal and Australia, knowing that they are the lowest ranked challenger teams in the 2019 VNL standings at the moment, went into the favor of Australia, that won the match in straight sets. Portugal now is at 2-10 with 7 points. Lincoln Williams was the top scorer for Australia (2-10; 10 points) with 21 points. Marco Ferreira made 15 for Portugal, while Phelipe Martins set up 5 winning blocks.
Portugal coach, Hugo Silva: “I congratulate Australia for this win, we need time to fix the problems, we need to set the situation in a way we will not lose the games easily. We will fight of course until the end. We will try because it is important for us to stay in this league.”
Portugal captain, Alexandre Ferreira: “I express my congratulations to Australia, they are a strong team. We could not perform well against their serves, the ydefended quite well, and this cost us too much and consequently we lost the game. For the rest of the competition we need to focus on upcoming games, because we still do not know whether we will stay or leave the VNL. Of course we need to fight for the rest of the games, almost all teams are at a high level, and for us it is important to enjoy the game as well.”
Australia coach, Mark Lebedew: “It was a very satisfying victory for us for a lot of reasons. This was a challenging match for us, unfortunately we have had a lot of disappointing losses until now. We had chances to win but we could not win in the end. It was a long time since we won a game but it is very satisfying to win this game. The performance was good as my colleagues said – the focus at the end of the sets was very strong, and also the serve was the key factor today. Not to mention, the atmosphere and hospitality in Ardabil was fantastic. We will remember this victory happily.”
Australia captain, Max Staples: “It is a shame that these two teams have to try to stay or leave the VNL. I guess my teammates have a lot of friends in the Portugal team. I think we have a lot in common from the point of culture, values, but we could act better, at the end of each set. We got on well, we needed to win this game. Back home, we will have more confidence to play the last week. We have not been home for quite a long time and I am happy we are flying home soon.”
In Pool 16 Brazil faced their historical rivals Russia, destroying them in straight sets (25:17, 25:21, 28;26) at home in Cuiabá. Brazil recorded the fifth successive victory in the competition and now only in practically sure that they will play the Final Six.
Brazil beat Russia in their 68th mutual encounter at world level major competitions and tied victories with historical rivals at 34-34. With this victory, Brazil took the lead in the standings with an 11-1 (30 points) record.
To stay out of the Final Six, the South Americans would have to lose all of their games in the last week, and the odds are small, especially knowing that Brazil will host Week 5 in Brasília and need to take only one more point in the next three matches.
On the other hand, Russia claim the fourth position in the standings with 9 victories and 3 defeats, with 26 points. They are also very close to advancing to the Finals.
Wallace Souza was the top scorer for Brazil in this match with 12 points, while Ivan Iakovlev and Ilyas Kurkaev scored 10 points each on the other side,
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: “We were expecting a tough match. To win we needed to be at our highest level. We started feeling a bit tense. We had some trouble with our reception, but then, in the key moments, we managed to keep our focus. Tonight the fans were very important in order to help us. They never stopped supporting us. In the third set they helped a lot.”
Brazil libero Thales Hoss: “We started sharply, but we had difficulties in reception, which is my job on the court. After we stabilized that we improved our game level. They are physically superior, but our skills were better tonight. When our service broke their reception, we had more opportunities to score, and that was a key to win.”
Russia captain Igor Kobzar: “Next week we will play without our opposite Poletaev, so our coach gave an opportunity to Zemchenok to play and feel confident for the next games. We did not play badly, so I think we will grow from this experience.”
On th same Pool, Bulgaria defeated Germany to achieve its fourth victory in the competition. Led by captain Tsvetan Sokolov, they came back after losing the two first set, and upset the rivals at tie break (26:28, 18:25, 25:23, 25:19, 15:10) with support from the Brazilian fans.
Bulgaria captain Tsvetan Sokolov: “We did not do anything different than the previous games here. We just played our volleyball, but we had the will to win. And we are very happy to do so after we were two sets behind.”
Bulgaria wing spiker Rozalin Penchev: “I think we stayed calm after losing the two first sets, we did not lose hope. We stopped to look at the score, and played to enjoy the match. At some point the fans started to cheer for us, they saw the smiles on our faces and then we absorbed that energy.”
Germany coach Andrea Giani: “We put on a great performance in the first two sets. But the third set we lost some opportunities. In some parts our level was lower than we expected. We have a young team, but that is not an excuse.”
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Week 4 – Day 3:
Pool 13 (Hoffman Estates, United States):
Canada – Japan 3-2 (25:18, 26:24, 23:25, 21:25, 15:13)
USA – China 3-0 (25:20, 25:19, 25:19)
Pool 14 (Milano, Italy):
Argentina – Serbia 3-0 (25:17, 25:23, 25:18) –GALLERY–
Italy – Poland 2-3 (25:23, 22:25, 25:23, 21:25, 23:25) –GALLERY–
Pool 15 (Ardabil, Iran):
Iran – France 0-3 (18:25, 24:26, 21:25)
Portugal – Australia 0-3 (23:25, 22:25, 25:27)
Pool 16 (Cuiabá, Brazil):
Germany – Bulgaria 2-3 (28:26, 25:18, 23:25, 19:25, 10:15)
Brazil – Russia 3-0 (25:17, 25:21, 28:26)
Photos: volleyball.world // randomvolley.com