Brazil and Bulgaria confirm their favoritism in Pool A and will face each other for spot in Tokyo. In Pool B USA cruise to 3-0 victory over Korea, while a recovered Abdel-Aziz leads Netherlands destroy Belgium. In Pool C Serbia sweep Cameroon and Italy’s brutal blocking display annuls Australia attack to survive. In Pool D, led by León, Poland demolish France in key match for Tokyo ticket and first victory for Slovenia. In Pool E Iran and Russia rest starters in today victories, looking ahead to direct clash for Tokyo. In Pool F Argentina get closer to progressing to Olympics Games, while Canada beat China in tie-break.
Brazil imposed dominance against Egypt, beating the African side by a 3-0 (25:12, 25:19, 25;14) on Day 2 in Pool A (Varna, Bulgaria) of the FIVB Volleyball Qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. So, Brazil are one game away from securing the spot for the Olympics. Without difficulties, they downed the rivals and will face the Pool A hosts Bulgaria in the decisive match tomorrow at 19:30 C.E.T. Already after the first two sets, it was visible that Egypt had no chances so Brazil’s head coach Renan Dal Zotto put bench players in the third set but. Even so, the high level of his team has remained. Yoandy Leal was the top scorer on the winning side with 13 points while Ahmed Shafik scored 9 points including 3 winning blocks for Egypt but did it through an unsatisfying attack success rate of 25%.
Bruno Rezende, Brazil captain: “I think our approach today was beter than yesterday. We served very agrresively and Egypt had many troubles with reception. We expect very difficult match against Bulgaria tomorrow. They are very strong on block and in attack and on the other hand they will have their home crowd support so it is going to be very hard to play in such an exciting atmosphere. We stay fully focused and we know that we have to play our best tomorrow and to get this very important win.”
Yoandy Leal, Brazil player: “It was a long awaited journey for me to start playing for Brazil and I am really excited to be on the court in every single match. I was expected to help the team mostly in attack but today I served very well too. It is going to be a difficult game tomorrow. Bulgaria have a strong team with their super star Sokolov. I know him very well, I know his playing style from the times we played together so I am sure they will put us in serious trouble.”
Guido Vermeulen, Egypt head coach: “It was an expected result against the Olympic Champions. We couldn’t play well and make it difficult for Brazil. I hope that tomorrow is going to be different and we will beat Mexico. We stay focused on the Continental Olympic Qualification.”
Hossam Abdalla, Egypt player: “We gave our best but we didn’t manage to handle the Brazilian power. I hope that tomorrow we will perform in a better way.”
On the same Pool, also Bulgaria confirmed favoritism beating Puerto Rico in straight sets. Thus, the home side will clash Brazil in a direct and decisive match for the first place in the pool that secures a ticket for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Bugaria’s Rozalin Penchev was the top scorer with 14 points, while Viktor Yosifov set up 4 winning blocks, and Martin Atanasov served 4 aces.
Silvano Prandi, Bulgaria head coach: “I perfectly know my players. I see what they can during the practices so I am not surprised with their performance at all. We had some ups and downs in today’s game but I am generally satisfied. What about the game tomorrow? Brazil is the favorite! They have their amazing volleyball history and traditions, their team and big achievements. Despite that I hope that we are going to play a great match tomorrow.”
Martin Atanasov, Bulgaria player: “This win was important for our self confidence in the next game. I am happy that we brought joy to our spectators. There is always a pressure but I am satisfied that I managed to improve my performance point by point playing better and better. Our fans gave me wings and I was like unstoppable on the serving line. I hope that tomorrow all of my teammates will have wings and all of us will serve perfectly. That’s the way we could beat Brazil.”
Maurice Torres, Puerto Rico captain: “I think we performed pretty well in the first two sets excluding some mistakes we made. And then in the third set we played very bad. We got out of rhythm and we couldn’t get back in. To play like this is really embarrassing but it’s the sport and sometimes it just happens. ”
USA swept South Korea in straight sets (25:20, 25:21, 25:16) in Pool B (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) and set up a showdown for the Olympic ticket with the Dutch side tomorrow. Aaron Russell top-scored for the USA for the second match in a row, scoring 12 points, while Shin Yung-Suk made 10 for Korea.
The team coached by an Italian coach Roberto Piazza, The Netherlands, have taken a big step towards the Tokyo Olympics with the 3-0 victory over Belgium. But, in order to place themselves in the event in the Japanese capital, the Dutch side will have to outplay one of the strongest Volleyball nations in the world, the United States. Moreover, good news for the Dutch fans: the injury of their star player Nimir Abdel-Aziz was not so serious. He left the match against Korea, yesterday, at the end of the third set and never came back. Today he was his team’s most prolific player with 21 points while Tomas Rousseaux scored 9 for Belgium.
In Pool C Serbia’s head coach Nikola Grbić could afford to rest several starters in the match against Cameroon for the upcoming decisive game against Italy. Atanasijević did not play at all, while Kovačević and Lisinac played only in the first set. Dražen Luburić was the top scorer for Serbia with 14 points while Cédric Bitouna and Arthur Voukeng scored 10 each for the Africans.
On the same Pool, the hosts Italy struggled a lot against Australia closing the match only in the tie-break (21:25, 25:19, 24:26, 25:17 and 15:13). Italy will go to Olympic games in case they beat Serbia in the last round. On the other hand, Australia needed a three-point worth win to stay in contention for progressing to the Olympics. Australia’s head coach Mark Lebedew changed the starting opposite hitter for this match. Lincoln Williams replaced Paul Carroll and it was a success, as the line-up newcomer scored 27 points. Since his attack was below 50%, Italy’s head coach Gianlorenzo Blengini decided to replace Ivan Zaytsev with Gabriele Nelli in the middle of the fourth set and did not put him back on the court until the end of the match. Osmany Juantorena scored 22 points for Italy, while Matteo Piano was fantastic in the block (8 winning blocks out of team’s 18).
The world champions Poland recorded a key victory on their way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games: they demolished main rivals in Pool D, France, in straight sets (25:21, 25:19, 25:20). Wilfredo León probablt showed that a 2-year waiting to play for Poland national team paid off to the Polish federation, as he was the top scorer of the match with 17 points making 10,000 spectators at the Ergo Arena, dressed in red and white, very happy. Mateusz Bieniek and Piotr Nowakowski added 4 winning blocks each. Earvin Ngapeth had a rather poor display, making only 31.8% attack success rate (7/22) and finishing with 8 points. He was replaced in the middle of the 3rd set by Julien Lyneel. Stéphen Boyer was France’s top scorer with 9 points. This means that no matter of the scores of the remaining matches in the pool both today and tomorrow in the last round, Poland will need to win only one set in their last match against Slovenia, to mathematically secure his spot in Olympic Games.
Benjamin Toniutti (France captain): “It was a tough game, but Gdańsk, Poland, August 10, 2019 – Poland deserved this win as they were much better. We didn’t find a solution to beat them. They are really strong, but also we struggled with some problems in spike. It was difficult. We wanted to get a ticket for Tokyo 2020 at this tournament, but now we lost three-zero and in my opinion there is no chance for it anymore. We have to fight for the Olympics in January.”
Laurent Tillie (France head coach): “Poland played better in all elements – serve, block, defence, attack – so it was difficult for us. We lost to a better team. We had many problems with service and Poland played very well tactically. We were not relaxed enough to perform better.”
Vital Heynen (Poland head coach): “It was the best game of my team this season. The match against Brazil in Chicago was also great, but it’s a totally different situation. Today we had some pressure on the team, and my guys showed that they are handling this pressure amazingly. But it’s only one match and we are not qualified yet. I think that this whole ‘package’ was too much for France. They had to play two tough matches in a row, they played against the public and a few other elements were our advantage, and we used this. During the world championship we showed that we are one of the best blocking teams and today we proved that again. My MVP of the match is the public, the Polish fans. What an amazing place to play, what a support – Polish fans are the best!”
Michał Kubiak (Poland captain): “We all played a very good match, of course we made some mistakes, but during games like this, playing against France with big risk, some mistakes must happen. Volleyball is a game of errors, we made only a few. We played well and calmly. It’s hard to compare one game to another, but when it’s about the encounter which decides whether you go to the Olympics or not, it triggers extra emotions. We still don’t have the qualification, we have to win one more game, so we are focused on playing well tomorrow.”
On the same Pool Slovenia claimed their first victory in the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification after defeating Tunisia in straight sets (25:23, 25:16, 26:24).
Hosni Kara Mosly (Tunisia captain): “Today we played better than yesterday. We lost, but we were close to win the third set. Slovenia are not a weak team. It’s a good preparation for us ahead of another tournaments. We played pretty good, but it was not enough to win. Next game tomorrow, maybe we will win some sets or even a match.”
Antonio Giaccobe (Tunisia head coach): “Every day we improve our game. Like I said before, we are here to gain experience and to learn. I think that today we started to understand how we have to play as a team. We performed better than yesterday, it was not enough yet, but we were very close to win the third set. We can’t reach top immediately, we have to do it step by step.”
Tine Urnaut (Slovenia captain): “Everything is possible, so we still have some chances to qualify for the Olympic Games here. It’s very difficult, because Poland played a really good match against France. We had many chances in matchup with France, so it was very important for us to win today. Tomorrow, we will play point by point, set by set and will see where the quality of our volleyball can bring us.”
Alberto Giuliani (Slovenia head coach): “It was difficult match. After yesterday’s defeat it was not easy to play, but now I can only say “bravo” to my guys. They gave 100% on the court and won this game in straight sets, earning the first win here, despite difficulties in the last set.”
Iran swept Mexico in straight sets (25:18, 25:21, 27:25) in Pool E of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The head coach of Iran, Igor Kolaković, rested most of his starters (Ebadipuor, Marouf, Mousavi and Ghafour) for the crucial match for qualifying to the Tokyo Olympics against Russia, tomorrow. However, they managed to take a straight-set win. Porya Yali was Iran’s top scorer player with 20 points while Daniel Vargas scored 19 for Mexico.
The hosts of Russia wrote down their second victory at the competition. The teams of Tuomas Sammelvuo beat Cuba by a 3-0 even though the Finnish coach left Mikhaylov, Muserskiy and Volvich on the bench. The most productive players in the match scored 15 points apiece: the Russian Dmitriy Volkov, and the Cuban Jesús Herrera.
Dmitry Volkov, Russia outside hitter: “It was a hard game, though we thought it could have been more easy. But Cuba served very well and we had some problems in reception and consequently in attack. We had a task not to risk on serving but make less mistakes than yesterday. The second and the third set were more difficult for us as we relaxed a little bit and made too many errors. The crowd helped us very much, but still we didn’t show our best performance. I hope that we do better in the decisive game against Iran tomorrow.”
Igor Kobzar, Russia captain: “This game was quite nervous. It depended a lot on Cuba’s performance. Cuba is that kind of team that can play very poor or on the contrary very high class volleyball in the same match. It is impossible to stop them when they play on courage. We used their weak periods to take an advantage and then managed to keep it until the end of every set.”
Nicolas Vives, Cuba head coach: “The final result is worse than yesterday, but the paradox is that we played much better. We are a very young team and we played against one of the biggest volleyball teams in the world. So the main gain for our team is experience. We just needed some luck in the end of sets two and three, but anyway I liked the way we played.”
Livan Osoria, Cuba captain: “We were playing against a team from the top-five tonight. They have a perfect block and use any mistake we make.”
In Pool F Argentina national team defeated Finland in four sets (25:17, 25:18, 21:25, 26:24) to get closer to their goal of progressing to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. With Bruno Lima as the top scorer, author of 13 points, but without such an impressive attack success rate (45.5%; 10/22), they achieved the second victory in Chinese Pool. Argentina will seek any victory or, in the worst case, a 3-2 defeat in the last round to assure a ticket for the Olympic Games next year. Samuli Kaislasalo scored 22 points for Finland, while Tommi Siirilä made 4 winning blocks.
Marcelo Mendez (Argentina head coach): “Congratulations to Finland. They played a very good game, but we still finished the match like winning a semifinal. Tomorrow it would be the final for us.”
Joel Banks (Finlnad head coach): “First of all, I would like to congratulate coach and team of Argentina for a great victory. For us, we are sad as we lost the match yesterday, which we aimed to win. And today we played a very very good game for our level, since we know the quality of Argentina, their speed and beautiful play they have. I think we played our best as we could. So for today I am satisfied with my team’s mentality and character. And I take a lot of positive things from this game.”
Antti Ronkainen (Finland outside hitter): “It was a tough match today. We knew that Argentina are a strong team, but we fought and this is our best game so far, especially in our defense. And it is a new battle and the last game tomorrow. We will do our best.”
Luciano De Cecco (Argentina captain): “First of all, I have to congratulate Finland team as we both played amazing volleyball today. We started very well with good intensity. But later, we went down a little bit, and Finland played very well. I think they did their best match, which I have not seen in the past two months. But we are very happy, and tomorrow we have another opportunity to play a very good game against China. Now we are going to rest and getting prepared for tomorrow.”
Despite recording a thrilling victory against China, Canada lost all chances of qualifying to the Tokyo Olympics Games. Still, they made China’s way towards the Olympics more difficult: the Asians need a 3-0 or 3-1 victory over Argentina in the last match. Nicholas Hoag was the top scorer for Canada with 20 points, while Liu Libin scored 20 as well for China, while Zhang Zhejia served 6 aces and Peng Shikun made 4 winning blocks.
Raul Lozano, China head coach: “I am satisfied with my team’s performance today. They did what they could do already and they kept fighting till the end. However, Canada had more experienced players, they controlled the game better especially in the key moments. However, do not forget that no one has been confirmed to get the ticket for the Olympics at this moment. If we beat Argentina tomorrow, we still have a chance to book the ticket to Tokyo. Let’s see what will happen tomorrow.”
Glenn Hoag, Canada head coach: “Like my captain Perrin said, I am a little bit disappointed that we can’t move on to qualify to the Olympics from this tournament. However, I was happy with the reaction of my guys today following our loss to Argentina yesterday. We struggled in the first and fourth sets, as we were troubled by the service of Zhang Zhejia in the first set and we committed too many errors in the fourth set. We failed to win the game with 3 points. Now we want to finish the tournament with Finland and get ready for the next step.”
Ji Daoshuai, China captain: “Canada are one of the top ten teams in the world. They are much stronger than us. So, I am so proud that we could fight them for five sets till the end. Anyway, forgetting the result, I am satisfied with what we did today.”
John Gordon Perrin, Canada captain: “We had thought that we could book the ticket to Olympics, but we are very disappointed with the result. Now we would focus on the next opportunity.”
FIVB Volleyball International Qualifier, Day 2:
POOL A (Varna, Bulgaria):
Brazil – Egypt 3-0 (25:12, 25:19, 25:14)
Puerto Rico – Bulgaria 0-3 (20:25, 22:25, 12:25)
POOL B (Rotterdam, the Netherlands):
Belgium – Netherlands 0-3 (22:25, 21:25, 20:25)
USA – South Korea 3-0 (25:20, 25:21, 25:16)
POOL C (Bari, Italy):
Serbia – Cameroon 3-0 (25:18, 25:18, 25:16)
Australia – Italy 2-3 (25:21, 19:25, 26:24, 17:25, 13:15)
POOL D (Gdańsk, Poland):
Poland – France 3-0 (25:21, 25:19, 25:20)
Tunisia – Slovenia 0-3 (23:25, 16:25, 24:26)
POOL E (Saint Petersburg, Russia):
Iran – Mexico 3-0 (25:18, 25:21, 27:25)
Russia – Cuba 3-0 (25:18, 26:25, 27:25)
POOL F (Ningbo, China):
Finland – Argentina 1-3 (17:25, 18:25, 25:21, 24:26)
China – Canada 2-3 (26:24, 21:25, 17:25, 25:23, 15:17)
Photos: volleyball.ioqt.2019.fivb.com, randomvolley.com