Italy repeats as FIVB Girls’ U18 World Champions. USA finishes 8th.

  0 Liam Smith | August 27th, 2017 | African Volleyball, Asian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball, U.S. Women's Volleyball


The arena in Rosario was packed with over 8.000 fans who vibrated Italy’s feat, once again world champions at this age group, this time over Dominican Republic in a delightful decisive match. Undefeated after eight matches,  they handed their opponents a 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-12, 25-20) defeat. Italy was led by a power trio of scorers – Terry Enweonwu and Elena Pietrini capped 17 points apiece and captain Alessia Populini scored just one less than them. Dominican Republic fought hard, and were led by Madeline Guillen, who scored a full set herself with 25 tallies.

In the first set, Marina Lubian and Populini fired a couple of cannonballs as Italy went up 16-10 and 19-14, and although Guillen had a nine-point first set, Italy made it through 25-23. Dominican Republic quickly reacted with a 6-3 start of second set, and that difference quickly grew to a 25-19 set win. The third was vital for Italy, as Enweonwu, Sarah Fahr and Pietrini took shifts to score until the 25-12 set win. In the fourt set, Guillen went for it all to helpo the Dominicans get even . They were leveled until the 17th point, when Italy escaped 19-17 with Enweonwu and never looked back. The same Enweonwu triggered the celebration with an attack to end the game 25-20.

Here are the post match reactions:

Terry Enweonwu, Italy’s player: “As our coach says: in the end, the winner is the most confident. We left our heart in the field; we have nothing else to give. We know we are strong and we believe in ourselves. I feel I didn’t make a good World Championship, I wasn’t expecting the individual award, but I want to thank my team for always having my back and supporting me.”

Alessia Populini, Italy’s captain: “I can’t describe all the emotions I’m feeling right now. I didn’t imagine what could it feel like, but now I know, and this is the moment. I feel an enormous joy on being the captain of this fantastic team; we showed point after point, set after set and game after game that we are the best team.”

Marco Mencarelli, Italy’s coach: “We were the strongest team mentally, the most trained team and the one that played better the important matches, where you win or go home. We are used to play finals; mentally it gives you another type of strength. Now we need to continue growing, we have the U20 World Championship now, where other teams are strong too. If I had to describe this title in just a word, it would be team. This group is truly homogeneous, this was truly a team effort and a team result.”

Alexandre Ceccato, Dominican Republic’s coach: “We were very happy just for being in the final against an amazing team like Italy. And to have been able to fight against them as equals… It’s a great feat for the Dominican Republic. Of course, congratulations to Italy and their great players. It was a very difficult match for us and we played well. We have many nice feelings after this World Championship, it has been great for us. The girls were sad at first, but they understood this second place is more than deserved and should be celebrated.”

Below, you will find updated videos, brackets, and FIVB recaps for all of the day’s action, Team USA’s defeat at the hands of Argentina in the fight for 7th place.

Championship Bracket

Round of 16 Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
  Russia  3
  South Korea  1
  Russia  3
  Japan  0
  Japan  3
  Serbia  2
  Russia  0
  Dominican Republic  3
  Argentina  3
  Brazil  1
  Argentina  0
  Dominican Republic  3
  Poland  2
  Dominican Republic  3
  Dominican Republic  1
  Italy  3
  Italy  3
  Peru  0
  Italy  3
  United States  0
  Slovenia  0
  United States  3
  Italy  3
  Turkey  1 3rd place match
  Turkey  3
  Colombia  0
  Turkey  3   Russia  3
  Germany  0   Turkey  1
  Belarus  2
  Germany  3

Bronze Medal Match

Turkey x Russia

With a 17-point game of Oxana Yakushina, Russia emerged as the winning side on the bronze medal match over Turkey 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 16-25, 25-15). Russia picked up their sixth medal in this age group, plus other two as the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1991. Those were two golds, three silvers and now three bronzes. Turkey, despite the bitter taste of the loss, managed to equal their 2015 result, when they finished fourth in Peru. Supporting Yakushina were Valeriya Shevchuk with 14 points, Victoria Pushina and Polina Shemanova, both with 10 tallies. For Turkey, Yaprak Erkek topped the list with 16 units, followed by Ebrar Karakurt (14) and Derya Cebecioglu (13).

Russia took advantage of Turkish errors for a 15-12 and underlined the difference with the duo Yakushina-Pushina, stepping forward 25-21. The team in red tried moving Erkek to opposite and it worked for a while, but Russia used Yakushina to draw a five-point gap before closing it 25-21. However, with Erkek back as wing-spiker, Turkey doubled Russia 16-8 and then did well on side-out to clinch the set 25-16. The match regained its previous course on the fourth set – Turkey failed and granted Russia a 12-5 lead, which Shevchuk helped transform into a 25-15.

Here are the post match reactions:

Polina Shemanova, Russia player: “We did all we can; this was the main purpose of the day and we are really happy. Our good services and blocks gave us the win. In the third set they played perfect with the service and put us in problems, but we managed to win and that’s the most important thing.”

Alexander Karikov, Russia coach: “I very much wanted to play the final, but the balance is really positive; we only lost one game, but this is sport. I still don’t know what happened to the girls yesterday; we have lots of good players and there are lots of fantastic players in the tournament. Today, we could manage to control their attacks with our block, and that’s why we won.”

Yaprak Erkek, Turkey player: “From the beginning of the tournament we did many things well, we improved a lot, but the last two games we simply couldn’t do our best. We couldn’t accomplish the target we wanted to, but I congratulate my teammates because we tried. Today we couldn’t do what we expected and what we prepared for, therefore they were better than us and won the game.”

Sahin Catma, Turkey coach: “We played really bad, both yesterday and today. We didn’t deserve to win the semifinals nor this medal match. The main key to the result was how we played, but they also were more concentrated than us and better in attack. Until yesterday, everything was perfect, but these last days we couldn’t do the things we were better at.”

5th–8th places

5th–8th semifinals 5th place match
  United States  1
  Germany  3
  Germany  0
  Japan  3
7th place match
  Argentina  0   United States  1
  Japan  3   Argentina  3

Japan x Germany

Japan beat Germany 3-0 (25-22, 25-10, 25-21) to end the tournament in the fifth place. The Asian champions wrapped up a fine campaign of 6-2 on wins-losses, while Germany landed on the sixth position with four victories and the same amount of defeats. Japan’s Haruna Soga had a good run with 22 points, meaning her average was above than 7 points per set. Wing-spiker Yuki Nishikawa aided the Japanese cause with 14, while Germany was led by Lina Alsmeier’s 12-point game.

As usual, Soga became a headache for the opponent side, this time a German team that trailed 16-12 and 21-16. The efforts of Alsmeier generated a 21-point tie, but Japan still obtained the first set 25-22 and then moved to 7-0 with reserve player Nonaka on the service line. Playing their usually marvelous defensive volleyball, Japan progressed to 15-5 and then 25-10, leading to a third set in which Germany tried again, but Soga remained unstoppable and she also blocked to break away 19-16, score that in a while changed into the final 25-21.

Here are the post match reactions:

Daichi Saegusa, Japan coach: “To finish at this fifth place, the girls did a great job today. They were excellent; at some games our nervousness was a factor, it wasn’t about techniques or tactics, the key was there. We know the European teams and some from America are very good; maybe we could have been a bit higher on the final ranking but this is our level these days. For the next tournaments, we must improve many things to be closer of teams such as Italy or Dominican Republic. They have the height we don’t, so we must rely on defense and service, and we must be strong-minded to face them.”

Haruna Soga, Japan player: “We have been improving every day, so today we could finally reach an excellent level. The key for this fifth place was our mind – when we are strong there, we can play well against any team, and when we aren’t it gets difficult because we don’t have the same physical conditions. If we want to play for a medal we need that and we must also defend and attack better. We were very happy here playing against some nice crowds; we are grateful for their support.”

Emma Cyris, Germany captain: “We played a better volleyball than we expected. We weren’t that good in the preparation, but in Santa Fe we had some good matches so the tournament is positive for us. This sixth place is also better hence – we thought we could only reach the eight finals, to be among the best 16 teams, so of course we’re happy.”

Jens Tietbohl, Germany coach: “It was a really good tournament for us, but to defeat Japan we have to be physically fit and fresh, and we weren’t today. We always had a good discipline and believed in ourselves, which was the key to reach this round in Rosario. We have a good spirit and teamwork; both of those are features of this group.”

USA x Argentina

In front of a cheerful crowd in Rosario, hosts Argentina went back onto the winning track with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 19-25, 30-28) over USA to finish the tournament in home soil at the seventh place. Argentina had already finished seventh in 1991 in Portugal, but it was out of 12 participating teams, so this 6-2 record with 20 countries in contest counts as a solid improvement. On the other hand, USA was second-placed on the last two editions and now dropped to the eighth place. Local idol Sofia Meinardi topped the charts with 18 points, well supported by Angeles Ligorria who bagged 4 aces and a total of 13 points. Meanwhile, USA was headed by Kendall Kipp’s 15 units, Skylar Fields came from the bench to add 12 and Mica Allison chipped in with 10.

After a leveled start, Meinardi and Ligorria worked well on counterattack towards 21-15 and 25-17 scores for the hosts. Kipp and Meinardi led their sides at a much closer second set, but it was Salinas the one who helped Argentina to turn a 20-19 into a 25-19. USA found momentum as they moved to 11-6 and 17-12 next, to win the chapter 25-19 via Kipp and Allison, and the fourth set was a shifting contest – Argentina recovered from an 11-7 deficit with Ligorria’s serves to win it 16-14, USA rebounded to 20-18, two more aces by Ligorria formed a 22-21 local score and, at a tense finale, Corsaro blocked and closed the 30-28.

Here are the post match reactions:

Dominique Corsaro, Argentina player: “Before the match we had a very good talk between the players, because we were like jinxed, we couldn’t bring ourselves together. Today we played with our hearts for these light-blue and white shirts. We were like somewhere else – we had not won a single set in Rosario until today and we came from a winning streak in Santa Fe, so it was strange for us how things developed here. We wanted to be among the best eight teams of the competition and we did it.”

Estanislao Vachino, Argentina coach: “We’re completely satisfied. Yesterday I left the hall a bit upset because we couldn’t understand Japan is a very good team, and we were out of focus. So today we prepared a lot, we knew we had a rival (USA) with a similar style than ours and I told the girls we had to win, for the people and for ourselves. We didn’t have to settle with just climbing places in the final ranking, we had to win. And the girls understood that; they played more motivated and we could take this match home.”

Mica Allison, USA player: “We battled at this hard game; it’s been like that for the past weeks and I think we did a good job, there are a lot of good teams in this tournament. We knew we had to work hard if we wanted to get something done. It was a good experience for all of us playing internationally; it was a lot of fun.”

Jim Stone, USA coach: “We wanted to use this experience for the players to get better. I think they learned a lot, they learned you can’t make a lot of mistakes because the other team won’t give you free points. Hopefully, it will be beneficial for them in becoming better volleyball players, smarter, wiser players. I like the fact we got better as the tournament went on; for this group to finish in the final eight is a good result. We are not disappointed on that.”

9th–16th places

9th–16th quarterfinals 9th–12th semifinals 9th place match
  Slovenia  1
  Peru  3
  Peru  0
  Belarus  3
  Belarus  3
  Colombia  0
  Belarus  3
  Brazil  1
  South Korea  3
  Serbia  1
  South Korea  0
  Brazil  3
  Brazil  3   Peru  1
  Poland  1   South Korea  3
13th–16th semifinals 13th place match
  Poland  1
  Serbia  3
  Serbia  3
  Colombia  0
15th place match
  Slovenia  2   Poland  2
  Colombia  3   Slovenia  3

Belarus x Brazil

Belarus claimed the ninth place of the tournament after a long four sets match against Brazil (25-23, 25-21, 20-25 and 25-23). Vera Kastsiuchyk scored 17 points for Belarus and Yuliya Kisliuk finished with 16 for Belarus. Hanna Hryshkevich also contributed with 14 points, while Alina Egorowa tallied 13. On the Brazilian side, Tainara Santos recorded 21 points as match leading scorer and Beatriz Pereira registered 13.

Belarus took the first two sets based on a good blocking performance after Brazil served well but struggled to get in the match. It was until the third set when the team coached by Mauricio Thomas finally could take some advantage. The South Americans reached the first technical timeout in the third with the score in their favor by 8-6. Brazilian momentum improved after six points lead but Daniela Seibt failed one service and the middle blockers could not convert in the next rally. Also, reception failed and Belarus could take a breath and shortened the distance in two points. Lanka Gomes calmed the tensions with a solid spike that kept Brazil still on the lead 16-12. Thomas’ adjustments put the team just three points away to win the set. But the fight was so tight in the last one in favor of the Europeans. Both teams had faced each other in the Pool Phase of the tournament. The victory at that time was for Belarus in straight sets by 25-18, 26-24 and 25-14.

Here are the post match reactions:

Agatha Beksha, Player of Belarus: “It was a very good and long match against such a great opponent like Brazil. We made it and are glad for finishing with a win and thank you to all the fans in Argentina. Atmosphere was so great.”

Ala Teterina, Team Manager of Belarus: “We liked this experience so much the response of the fans in the final game was wonderful, the public is so friendly and we liked that so much. I hope our teams can come out and play in other championships. We liked how people followed us.”

Mariana Brambilla, Player of Brazil: “It was an amazing World Championship for us even we didn’t get the place we wanted and desired. I think that if we maybe had a better start we could have been stronger in the following stages, but anyway it was a unique experience and now we need to work harder to grow for the following competitions.”

Mauricio Thomas, Head Coach of Brazil: “I think it was one of our worst performances on World Championships. We didn’t manage to find a team with enough strength to face adversities, but they’re young, it’s their first experience and they need to keep growing. They need to improve so they can represent Brazil better on the next tournament.”

Peru x Korea

Korea closed their participation in the tournament in eleventh place after beating Peru 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 25-27 and 25-16). The team coached by Wanki Cho needed 1 hour and 53 minutes to grab the victory based on the powerful attack of Hyemin Park, Jiyun Jeong and Juah Lee, who scored 19 points apiece. Mini Choi also contributed to the team by tallying 14 units. Kiara Montes topped for Peru with 17 points while Danita Llano scored 13 in the last set as a starter and the previous three as a substitute.

Peru came back in the third set as took the best from Korea’s errors. It seemed difficult for the South American team but not impossible. However, Korea could control the match in the fourth with a nine points advantage. Korea dominated with the services 14-10. Juah Lee aced 5 times for the Asian squad. Kiara Montes also showed good performance with the same number of aces but could not capitalize as many points as they did in the first three sets.

Here are the post match reactions:

Minji Choi, Player of Korea: “Today was our last match and I’m happy we played well and got the victory. I would like to thank my teammates for this tournament. Korean players are not really tall and we could see very good players here. Now we have to go back to our country and train hard to become professional players.”

Wanki Cho, Head Coach of Korea: “For our players, this was a very good experience, they’re not really used to South American and European game, but now we can understand their style and that’s important to all of us. We arrived in Argentina only two days before the start of the competition and that was hard because of the time difference, but we’re happy because we could overcome.”

Danitza Llaro, Player of Peru: “Peru has improved during the competition and especially considering that for some of us this is our first competition. We have always been a happy and fighting team and that was reflected on every ball we played. It’s my first time in a World Championship and is really competitive. All the teams are very good and that makes us grow.”

Marco Queiroga, Head Coach of Peru: “This was a good competition, I would like to congratulate Argentina for their organization. I think the competition level was very high and we were in a very tough Pool. We faced many of the teams that were defining the title, but despite that, we could play against all of them. At this level any mistake can get you out of the competition, I think we should be more aggressive on the attack and better in reception. We need to keep on working, but we know we leave stronger than we arrived, so I’m happy with the result of the team.”

Serbia x Colombia

Serbia finished in thirteenth place after a three setter victory over Colombia by scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-21. Milica Milunovic tallied 15 points for the Serbian team to finish as match top scorer. Miljana Glusac closed with 13, followed by Sara Caric, who registered 11. For Colombia, Darlevis Mosquera scored 9 points.

Serbia led the services column 8-3 with three aces by Glusac while Colombian blocking performance was a little bit better with a final 7-5 lead (five blocks were converted into points by Darlevis Mosquera) after 1 hour 13 minutes of game time.

Here are the post match reactions:

Miljana Glusac, Player of Serbia: “I feel good now that we got the 13th place and I’m also happy with the way we played today’s match. It’s important to finish the tournament with a win, but we were supposed to be better. It was a big experience for us, it strengthens us to play against totally different volleyball than in Europe.”

Milan Milosevic, Assistant Coach of Serbia: “I think it was a successful match, we controlled the game from the first set, we had good serve and we tried to get the victory on this tournament’s ending. We wanted to make a good story about this World Championship and we gave the best we had. It’s an important experience for all this girls with a good future. They need to work a lot because they’re still very young.”

Valerin Carabali, Player of Colombia: “I think we played a good match today even we didn’t win. We’re happy with this new experience and for having the chance of playing this World Championship. Hopefully it will be only the first of many others. It was very good to face different type of games where you can learn a lot. I’m glad because we gave it all during all the tournament.”

Antonio Rizola, Head Coach of Colombia: “I think the most important is the project that this experience in the World Championship has started. He have to keep on working and improving, taking the best of this opportunity that we had of facing several teams that we usually don’t play against. Now we have to prepare for our following challenges, but I’m sure this was just the beginning of a very good story.”

Slovenia x Poland

Slovenia came from behind to defeat Poland in five sets and finished in the fifteenth place in the tournament. Slovenia recovered from an adverse 0-2 and forced a tiebreak to win the victory by scores of 16-25, 22-25, 25-13, 25-19 and 15-12. Eva Ztakovic registered 20 tallies for Slovenia (including 4 aces) while Alja Jerald registered 18 and Tali Lekse closed with 10. For Poland, Zuzanna Gorecka and Paulina Damask scored 13 apiece.

Slovenia worked hard with their blocking game and closed with an 11-7 lead, while their services prevailed 13-11 with five by Eva Pogacar. For Poland Paulina Damaske closed with four aces. Both teams surrendered 31 points by mistake apiece.

Here are the post match reactions:

Joze Casar, Head Coach of Slovenia: “It’s important to go back home with a victory. We weren’t good in the first two sets, we started with players that doesn’t play too much before, but then we returned to our starting team and they played really good. Teams are really close in the tournament; Poland lost 3-2 against the finalist and we probed today that we can play against any team at top level and give our best. This young volleyball players playing at this level make me happy for the team and also for Slovenia.”

Manja Jerala, Player of Slovenia: “It was an awesome game, we really wanted to win but in the first sets we didn’t play as we expected. Hopefully our team came back, the serve was better, our minds were set up and we win. It was a great opportunity to our country and our team, I think we will remember this until the end of our days. Maybe next time we will do it better, but for being the first experience this is a great result and we’re very happy.”

Rafal Gasior, Head Coach of Poland: “We’re still playing with some players injured and that affected our performance today. I think Poland had a very good beginning of the tournament so we could separate our championship in two parts: the first in Rosario were we won three matches and lost two in tie break against Italy and Dominican Republic, the finalist of the championship. We didn’t have luck in some parts of the tournament and here in Santa Fe we suffered the absence of some players.”

Final Standings

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