Italy and Holland know each other very well. Before the World Championships the teams played two friendly matches in three days. Each team won one of the matches so we are facing an open situation here today. The Dutch line-up started strong. In a short time they got their act together leading 5-0. Italy had trouble in reception and faced some prefect blocks from #15 Staelens. Under the leadership of hard working #7 Cacciatori Italy fought back in set taking advantage of also poor receiving Dutch 6-10. Headcoach Mathieu used the free zone frequently to talk to his players, instructing them how to get back grip on the set 7-11. Italy stead very cool and was very concentrated, not giving any presents to the Dutch 7-15. Italy pulled up some big blocking walls in the beginning of the second set. It was #16 Mello and #9 Galastri scoring straight Block points 0-4. Very effective serve pressure on Italian side caused problems in the Dutch reception and distribution. Italy kept both, concentration and tempo in the set very high which created an all most "Walk-over" score 2-11. Even football defense could not help out for Holland. Italy kept pushing its limits and under the perfect distribution of top setter #7 Cacciatori the Dutch where simply overpowered 4-15. The third set showed an equal fight between both teams but in was Italy again that had the best of it in the first part . Just by doing simple things very good and more important not making too many errors 5-9. In an exciting end of the set in which long rally play was displayed on both sides the Dutch never stopped fighting and equaled the score 11-11. Hard work and strong attacking finally worked out best for Italy in the only real exciting set of this match 14-16.
NED Pierre MATHIEU Q. What is your opinion about today's game? A. As you see, we only complain about the game. Italian team is good and strong in defense. LEFERINK and STAELENS played worse than the day before. In the 3rd set, BOERSMA, the captain, was injured. We started well in the 3rd set but it was too late. We did not have luck. Italian team played well and they were lucky. Cintha BOERSMA Q. You have an injury. Do you think the injury will have adverse effect on the match against the winner of the game between Croatia and Japan? A. I am ready to play. I may not hit strong attacks but I will do my best in defense and pass. Q. You will play against Japan or Croatia on November 12. Please give us your prospect of the match. A. Japan, the team of the host country, will play better than Croatia. ITA Angiolino FRIGONI Q. How was the game today? A. I can say we are happy about the result, but we had a hard time in the end of the first and third set. NED's serves were very good, so it was hard to receive them. Q. You may have JPN as your opponent tomorrow. A. (Before we say that, ) JPN and CRO have to fight first. However, JPN is a very good team. Their defense is good. Q. Taking over the position from Mr Velasco may be challenging for you, and you achieved the best result ever. A. He and I were in the Italian National men's team together for 8 years, and worked together for the women's team in these two years. He chose other opportunity, however, the splendid results come from not only our efforts, but all stuff members work. Q. JPN and CRO are different in the styleof play. Which will be better to fight against for you? A. From my experience, I would say JPN, which will bring 10,000 spectators to the arena! Maurizia CACCIATORI Q. How was today's match? A. It was wonderful, and a historical game for us. We are guaranteed the 7th position in this tournament now. We are already thinking about the next match of tomorrow. Q. You may have JPN as your opponent tomorrow. A. We are not sure to play against them yet. However, we do our best and try to win.
When spectators looked at the score in the third set, they could not beleive their eyes : China was leading 15-4, 15-4, 13-2 ! A normal score against a team ranked 58 in the world. But, in front, it was the enormous Russia ! So, what happened ? A bad day for Karpol's players or perfect tactical personnal preparation realised by Chinese coach Lang Ping ? In the two first sets, everybody understood that setter He has decided to move a lot the giant Russian block. So with a real talent for surprises, she alterned back crosses on the right wing, quick slides in the middle, three meters, and russian middle blockers were completely lost : the statistic for the best team block of the competition was clear : one winning block instead of the usual 15 ! But to organize her game, setter He needed to get the ball in good conditions. And that was on that point that China realised a model : not trying to realize winning blocks in front of huge attackers, Wu and captain Lai just got the ball slower. And with the fantastic back line digging quality, very quickly, the much too simple russian attack was unable to find a solution. Balls in the ceiling coming from setter Vassilievskaia even started to freighten Godina and Sokolova themselves, whose spikes made often lift the lines judges flags ! So, with these Russian balls which refused to die in the opponent court, Chinese players became more and more confident, taking terrible risks on floating serves. But, when China arrived at that amazing 13-2 in the third set, captain libero Oguienko (who has been the only Russian to hold the opponents level) felt a little lack in Chinese concentration and encouraged her teammates : Tichtchenko's serves and Artmanova's attacks (at least) made a 7 points in a row (13-9) against an exhausted team. After a lot of side-outs, Qiu found the first solution with an ace and captain Lai the second and last one with a winning block ! A total and inventive volleyball demonstration.
Valentina OGUIENKO (Russian captain) Q: What do you think about the game against CHN? A: We played such a terrible volleyball! Nikolai KARPOL (Russian coach) Q: How do you feel about today's game? A: I would like to congratulate CHN. Q: What did you try to say to your players in the first and second sets? A: All the players are young and lost their concentration and confidence. So, I told them that they had ability. In the third set, VASSILEVSKAIA improved herself, but GODINA and SOKOLOVA could not play better. Q: Did you expect that CHN serves would be so good that they destroy your team? A: I didn't think so. Even during the match, I didn't think so. We lost not because we were destroyed by CHN's serves but because we didn't play well offensively. LAI Yawen (Chinese captain) Q: What do you think about the game? A: We had done everything to prepare for the match. Every player showed her power! WU Yongmei(China) Q: What do you think about the game? A: I am happy with the result. That is the result of unity. Q: You performed good blocks. Your blocks made RUS offensive play unsuccessful. Did you know features of the RUS team? A: Because we played more games against RUS than anyother teams, we knew their strategies. LANG Ping(Chinese coach) Q: Give us your comments on the game. A: We prepared ourselves for the game. We had a meeting last night and I told players to analyze opponents, and to stay calm in order to show our usual power, and never to give up. We played three games against RUS in this year in Switzerland, Thailand and Hong Kong. We won the games in Switzerland and Thailand, and lost with 2-3 in Hong Kong. We had preparation for their game and studied strategies. We did not care about win or lose, just tried to show technics. We have no superstar, so we united ourselves and played as one person. RUS and CHN are on the same level, but we pshycologically were at ease. We would like to do our best.
Who will play the Final of this 1998 World Championship against China tomorrow? That was the big question before the match of today. The winner would take it all in this match. The beginning of the first set showed that this was going to be a Power-volleyball match. All aspects of preparation where there. Both teamstaffs in the right positions, on and off court. All high-tech communication installed in order to give both head-coaches the latest statistical information during the match and two groups of volleyball athletes in absolute "super shape". Cuba started the same way as in all the matches so far in this World Championship "Hard and High" taking a 1-5 lead. But Brazil would not be Brazil to give up. They where fighting for every point 3-5. This fight went on and on with Cuba leading 9-12. It was hard for Brazil to cope with the incredible power of players like Torres, Bell and Ruiz but good court organization and super defense play kept Brazil "hanging in" fighting over every point. Unfortunately it was not enough to get the set away from Cuba (10-15) The beginning second chapter of this match was a serves-show by Brazilian player #8 Barros taking care of 3 straight aces on a row 4-1. Cuba's excellent performance so far "dipped" a little, giving Brazil the opportunity to increase the score 8-1. Coach Perdomo decided that it was time to bring # 3 Luis on court in an attempt to deregulate the winning rhythm of Brazil. Cuba scored two points by stiff blocks but seemed to have trouble getting back into the right concentration. Under the leadership of # 14 Venturini Brazil kept working on a further development of the score 13-3. There where no more changes for Cuba to catch-up since the Brazil was only 2 points away from a winning set (15-10). The Cubans regained their concentration and started to show their full strength again in the third set of this thrilling match taking a big lead 4-9. Heavy jump serving from Cuba # 12 Aguera made life difficult for Brazil. Headcoach Rezende`s girls kept on the fight.
Karin VEBTURINI (Brazilian player) Q : What do you think about the game? A : It was a tough game. We had a difficulty in gaining points. Blocking was not good. We did not play well defensively. Our spikes were not effective. Q : What does your team need to overcome Cuba? Good serve, which will pressure on the opponent and it will give us the possibility to organize good net defense (blocking). Ana CONNELLY (Brazilian player) Q : What is your opinion of the game? A : When we served effectively, the flow of the game was good, but when we failed to serve well, the flow of the match became bad. Bernard REZENDE(Brazilian head coach) If our serve is not good, many things do not work out in a game against Cuba. Producing bad serves induced mistakes in blocking and so on. We missed our fighting spirit in this match, we couldn't do our best. That is why we lost this game. BELL MCKENZIE Regla Q: What do you think about today's game? A: It was a very powerful game, because both teams are very strong. We both did our best, and I am extremely happy. RUIZ Yumilka A: It was a great game today, because both teams were very well prepared. We finally won so maybe our preparation and performance was maybe just a little better. PERDOMO (Cuban Head Coach) A : It was very tough game today. Both physically and mentally it took a lot of players. We won today, but last two matches where won by Brazil. We know Brazil very well, so we were well prepared. We are extremely happy with this success, and we are looking forward to play the final against China tomorrow.
n that 5th to 8th semifinal, one had to remind that Croatia was leading two sets to love against China in quarterfinal before to give up 12-15 in the tie-break and had hardly dominated Italy and easily Bulgaria : an evident quite good team. But rarely a team has been oriented around only one player : Barbara Jelic, who will probably earn the 50 000$ prize money attributed to the best scorer. Easy to understand : against Japan, she attacked 68 times over 137 counted for her team : exactly half ! But with 1,93m height and twenty-one years old, no problem to support the pressure all a match long. She was also helped by former Soviet players (Sidorenko's digs and classical attacks on the left wing) and Cebukina's blocks. Then, the Japanese problem, facing this classical East European volleyball, was to dig and dig, multiply the side-outs, and wait for a mistake, like China did so well against Russia in the former semifinal. But Tajimi's teammates did not physically succeeded : in the first set, Tsukomo's three meters and Tajimi's blocks (three in a row !) permitted Japan to lead 12-9. But three new attacks out, suddenly, let see that Japanese legs were becoming heavier. Defence held the game, but Ito and Mitsunaga could no more jump at the net after partners digs. In the third set, Japan had a reaction : led 5-13, a second breath with Ogake's spikes, authorized a hopeful 9-13... But Cebukina (another 1,90m...) broke the dream with an ultimate winning block.
Irina KIRILLOVA (Croatian team Captain ) Q : You won the match. How do you feel now? A : I am so happy about today's result. Japan is a a good team, which has extremely high level of defense. But our team did the best in both defense and offense. Ivica JELIC (Croatian Head Coach) A : We displayed our skills perfectly, and today's match was the best one among all previous matches we have done in this tournament. After we won the first set, we fought for the second with the same quality. I think that's why we got the victory. Q : Japan and Croatia knew each other well. What was the key factor for winning ? A : Maybe our team was successful at maintaining good concentration, reception and attacking through the match. Asako TAJIMI (Japanese Captain) Q : What do you think about the game? A : I was supposed to block the attack from JELIC, but I couldn't catch the timing to jump up. We were self-destructive. Q : How will you play in tomorrow's match? A : If we play like today, we can't show our power. We will change our mood and do our best. Miki SASAKI (Japan) A : In the last meeting we had, we were talking about stopping JELIC's attacks, but we couldn't do that. Nobuchika KUZUWA (Japanese Head Coach) Q : How was the game? A : The first set was the key to the whole game. Our players kept themselves tense and played in a good mood. We lost the first set, which gave us a negative effect in the following sets.