Japan, Iran, Korea, and Russia on All-Asian Semis. Boys’ U19 Worlds

  0 Liam Smith | August 25th, 2017 | African Volleyball, Asian Volleyball, Brazilian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Coaching Changes, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball, U.S. Men's National Team


Is the rest of the world even trying?

It will be an All-Asian Semifinals at the FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championships, as Japan, Russia, Iran, and Korea battle it out for the Gold. This is an interesting trend, that also came to be just today at Taipei’s Universiade Men’s volleyball tournament.  It shows Asia’s continental rise to solidify its status as volleyball’s powerhouse.

Below, you will find updated brackets and recaps from all of today’s games:

Championship Bracket

Round of 16 Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
  Japan  3
  Puerto Rico  0
  Japan  3
  Czech Republic  0
  Argentina  1
  Czech Republic  3
  France  3
  United States  0
  France  2
  Russia  3
  Russia  3
  China  1
  Iran  3
  Turkey  0
  Iran  3
  Brazil  0
  Brazil  3
  Bahrain  0
  South Korea
  Italy  0
  South Korea  3
  South Korea  3
  Egypt  1
  Egypt  3
  Cuba  2

Round of 16

Japan x Czech Republic

Asian champions Japan secured a slot into the semi-finals with a straight-sets win against European champions Czech Republic (25-22, 25-18, 25-22).

Captain Kento Miyaura was the main scorer for the Japanese side with 24 points scored off purely from attacks. Tatsunori Otsuka also helped the Japanese team’s offence by delivering 17 points. Japan employed their brand of quick offence, enabling their hitters to outrun the taller front line of the Czechs. They also unleashed strategic serves that gave difficulty for the opponents to receive and set up for counter-attack. The European side tried to run their offence on combination plays, but the Japanese also knew how to retaliate with good floor defense. The Asian side succeeded with 50 digs, which proved useful in setting up their plays, scoring off a total of 50 attacks.

Here are the post match reactions:

Japan coach Hiroshi Honda: We prepared for this match by organizing our block formation because Czech Republic can play fast volleyball.

Japan captain Kento Miyaura: I am very happy for winning this match against Czech Republic. For sure it was not an easy match, but we have to be confident. Even when our level of play goes down or when we make mistakes, we have to keep believing in ourselves.

Czech Republic coach Jiri Zach: We made a lot of mistakes. Japan is a strong team. They have good defense on the floor and I can say they played with a big heart. Unfortunately, we were not able to play the same way as they did.

Russia x France

Russia booked their berth in the semifinals by narrowly overcoming France in five sets (25-27, 26-24, 23-25, 25-19, 16-14). Ivan Kuznetcov and Stanislav Antonov hauled in 21 points and connected in crucial plays to bring Russia to an epic win in the decider. Celestin Cardin led France in scoring with 18 points.

The Russian offence utilized their wing spikers Kuznetcov and Antonov, unleashing sharp, strong attacks against their opponents. Soon enough, France figured out a way to play against Russia’s firepower from the flanks. The French side adjusted their block and prepared well for the second line of defense. Russia persisted in their orchestration at the wings and found better coordination in transition and counter-attack. In the fifth set, it was mainly Russia’s net defense that spelled the difference. The Russian team connected with a total of 20 points from blocks.

Here are the post match reactions:

Russia coach Andrey Nozdrin: This was the most difficult and the most important match in this tournament. I really have no emotions or words for now, but I can say that I am really proud of my players. It was a good game and a good experience for each one of them.

Russia captain Konstantin Abaev: France is a very good team. I think we really had the willpower to win. Before the fifth set, the coach reminded us to just show our passion and emotion on court. We had a lot of problems at the beginning. We were not really playing so brilliantly but France made a lot of mistakes too. Later, we gave pressure in service and blocks which helped us win.

Here are the post match reactions:

France coach Belmadi Slimane: Our biggest problem in this match was the blocking. The Russians teamed up on block. If we were able to find a solution against this, we could have had a better chance to win.

France captain Lucas Soldner: We made so many mistakes in playing against the Russian team. We were not able to make good decisions in crucial moments of the match. We played against a very good team, I want to look at this loss as an opportunity to learn.

Brazil x Iran

Iran claimed a 3-0 victory against Brazil to earn a semi-finals spot in the competition. Porya Yali was the top scorer for Iran with 18 points, while Amirhossein Esfandiar added 14 more points. Victor Cardoso and Welinton Oppenkoski were Brazil’s top performers scoring 13 points each.

The Asian side dominated their opponents on attacks, with Yali and Esfandiar comprising a powerful front line. Brazil could match up with this kind of power, but they needed to work hard on defense. The South American mostly found difficulty in passing the ball, and their usual hitters could not find the right momentum nor tempo. Meanwhile, Iran also showed how they could also play good defense, both by the net and on the floor. The Iran team connected with 39 attacks, 10 blocks kills, and limited their error-count to just 12 to win the match in straight sets.

Here are the post match reactions:

Iran coach Reza Farjad: We are very happy to have this match against Brazil. We have prepared well with our mentality coming into this game. We like playing against strong teams because we can have the chance to improve our level. During the rest day, we trained hard, both in fitness and ball training. I think this has really paid off with our performance today. Brazil is a very strong team with a lot of talent for the future. We needed to use our tactics in this match, and all the players performed well with this game plan in mind.

Iran captain Amirhossein Esfandiar: I want to play long enough and good enough to make it to the seniors’ team. Sometimes, I cannot wait to be in that level. But I have to work harder and train more.

Brazil coach Leonardo Carvalho: It was very difficult to play against Iran particularly that our reception was not as good as we want it to be. We played at the start in a very good level, with good reception, strong attacks, strong serves. But in the end of the first set, we could not post well on reception on the float serves. They had very strong serves with the right spin or float. They deserve to win as they really played better than we did. I am very impressed with Iran’s players. They are much stronger and they can play at such a high level. Congratulations to Iran.

Brazil captain João Franck: In this level of competition, we can make a lot of errors. But what we can do is learn from these mistakes and avoid doing them in the future.

Korea x Egypt

Riffa, Bahrain, August 25, 2017 – Korea took the last semi-finals slot in the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship with a 3-1 win against Egypt (25-20, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19) on Friday at Isa City Sports Hall.

Donghyeok Im and Sunho Kim stood out as Korea’s main scorers, with 26 points and 19 points respectively. Youssef Awad (Elsafy) and Abdelrahman Eissa led Egypt with 16 points each.

Korea worked on their advantage on fast plays to throw off the usual rhythm of the opponents. They were quick with their attacks and, at times, utilized combination plays. Egypt tried to play against this by imposing their powerful attacks. The African side also proved to be aggressive from the service line, but the Asian side showed good defense on the floor. They often found ways to pick up the ball and to properly set up their counter-attack. Korea captain and setter Ikje Choi worked well in distributing his plays, setting up the offence with much precision.

Post match reactions:

Korea coach Wongil Park: We prepared well for their serves. The other team had a lot of formation changes so we needed to change as well. We thought about a lot of ideas to prepare for this. The reception was also important for our win today.

Korea captain Ikje Choi: In the beginning of the match, the outside spikers were a bit confused with the reception. They did less than what they were expected to do. But we were able to adjust and overcome this difficulty and all through to the end, we just played a great game as a team.

Egypt coach Nehad Shehata: I think my team was too tired from their match on Thursday against Cuba. We played five sets, so maybe we were too exhausted. It was hard to recover in such short time so maybe we had a bit of bad luck. Anyway, we will try to improve our skills in our next match to be able to get a good ranking in this tournament.

9th – 16th Playoffs

9th–16th quarterfinals 9th–12th semifinals 9th place match
  Puerto Rico  1
  Argentina  3
  United States  1
  China  3
  Turkey  3
  Bahrain  0
  Italy  3
  Cuba  0
27 August

Argentina x Puerto Rico

Juan Barrera powered Argentina’s offence in their 3-1 (26-24, 25-12, 21-25, 25-17) win over Puerto Rico. Barrera led all scorers with 22 points and Federico Seia was Argentina’s second best scorer with 14 points. Pedro Molina and Gabriel Garcia made 14 and 13 points for Puerto Rico on a losing effort.

Argentina survived the late run by Puerto Rico to win the first set at 26-24 and commanded the second set at 25-12 as they outscored their rivals in all scoring skills. Puerto Rico bounced back in the third set as Molina and Garcia found their offensive rhythm, but Argentina finished the fourth set with a huge lead on their rivals.

Here are the post match reactions:

Argentina captain Federico Seia: We need to keep a good level of confidence among our players for the remainder of the competition. We still have a couple of tough games to play and we want to finish with the best result we can.

Argentina coach Luis Testa: We played better in attack than they did. We lost our focus a little bit in the third set but in the end we did what we needed to do to get the win. It is always important for us to win every game, no matter which team we are facing.

Puerto Rico coach Juan Albarran: It is disappointing again not to win but we must always try to be better whichever team is on the other side of the net. We will continue to work hard until the very end.

Puerto Rico captain Gabriel Garcia: We must try to keep our guys focused and have the right attitude towards the game. We must be positive. Even if we are no longer fighting for the championship, my team knows that we are still playing for our country and we must always do our best to get the best position we can. We are representing our people and we are playing for our honor.

China x USA

Wang Chao sparked the offence as China excelled in a 3-1 (24-26, 25-20, 29-27, 25-20) win over Team USA. Wang recorded 12 attacks and three service aces, then Li Ao and Tian Cong also scored in double-figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively. USA also had three double-digit scorers led by Joel Schneidmiller, who topped all scorers with 16 points, followed by Jonathan Bowles and Jerod Nelsen who charted 13 and 11 points, respectively.

USA fought hard to secure the first set 26-24 after China challenged them in each rally. China bounced back with victories in the next two sets as they disrupted USA’s defense with their fast plays and strong serves headed by Wang and Li. USA opened the fourth set with a 4-0 lead, but China responded quickly to completely overtake the lead for a four-set win.

Here are the post match reactions:

China coach Wang Haichuan: Today, the USA team and our team played at the same level. We served better today than yesterday, and this was key to our victory. We will do the best to improve on our level in the next matches.

China captain Tian Cong: We will approach our final games a little more relaxed but we know that we still have to play our best.

USA coach Sam Shweisky: China are a good team and they played very well today. There were times we executed well and we’re very pleased with that, but in the course of the match we hit well but had too many errors. We also had to deal with some injuries again today but we did the best we could do to fight. We’ll do our best to keep fighting tomorrow.

USA captain Joel Schneidmiller: We came out in the second set and struggled a little bit with the passing. We kept our heads up and kept fighting. It was just about us passing today and they out scrapped us on the defensive end. If we could have passed better on half of the balls and served a little better, then we would be in this game.

Turkey x Bahrein

Adis Lagumdzija had an unstoppable offensive night to lead Turkey to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-23) win over hosts Bahrain. Lagumdzija scored 20 of his 21 points from the attack line. Husain Thamer helped the host team with 12 points. The Turkish edged the Bahrainis in all scoring skills with 43 attacks, eight blocks and three aces.

Turkey had a dominating performance against hosts Bahrain, as the latter’s hitters had difficulty penetrating the tough Turkish wall. The hosts played a gallant fight in the second and third sets when they hustled well on defense, but Lagumdzija sealed match victory with his unstoppable spikes from the right flank.

Here are the post match reactions:

Turkey captain Adis Lagumdzija: It was quite an easy game as we won 3-0. We played really bad and we didn’t take the game seriously as we should. We could have played much better. After yesterday’s loss, it was hard to come together and play again. Our goal is to play better in the next two matches.

Bahrain coach Yusuf Khalifa: We didn’t play well. We had no focus. We made so many mistakes and it doesn’t help when you play against a team like Turkey. They have tall players who know how to attack. They have very strong serves too.

Italy x Cuba

Lorenzo Cortesia was a force at the net as he scored five of Italy’s 17 blocks to win 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-17) against Cuba. Cortesia had a match-high 13 points, then Davide Gardini and Daniele Lavia scored 11 points apiece for Italy. Cuba struggled to get better involvement from their hitters on offence as they only scored in single digits with Lazaro Llanes leading them with eight markers. Italy scored 28 attacks, 17 blocks and nine aces to overpower their rivals.

Italy gained ground in the first set with a good service game that put Cuba in a difficult position to run their offence. The Cubans were more aggressive in the second set, but the Italians played excellent net and floor defense that enabled them to gain the five-point edge to win the set. Italy continued to play their game, while Cuba struggled on their errors that closed set and match in favor of the Europeans.

Here are the post match reactions:

Italy coach Mario Barbiero: We played well in block and attack in this match. Cuba are young and will be a great team in the future. They have strong players. My players were very angry after we lost yesterday. It was a terrible day to lose in the quarterfinals. But today is a good day and we got a win.

Italy captain Daniele Lavia: We were very sad we lost a very difficult match yesterday. Our defence and attack were not there, but today we played well and we were ready to win. We will play with Turkey and we hope to do the same. We expect that match will be difficult as well.

17th-20th Play-offs

Poland x Tunisia

Bartosz Firszt led Poland in their first win of the tournament, a 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-13) match against Tunisia. Poland’s Bartosz Firszt scored a match-high 19 points, then Remegiusz Kapica contributed 15 points. Ghassen Zgarni and Salem Nafetti only made seven and six points, respectively, to run the Tunisian offence. Poland contained their errors to only 14, which became key to their straight-set victory.

Poland’s go-to hitter in the first set was Firszt, who helped his team mount a big lead and opening set win against Tunisia. In the second set, Poland’s Firszt and Kapica hammered strong spikes that battered the Tunisian defense. Tunisia conceded the match, as they could not find a way to stop the Polish scoring duo.

Here are the post match reactions:

Poland coach Maciej Zendel: It was a very important win for us because we are very disappointed that we lost all our games here in the World Championship. In the previous matches, we had many mistakes, but we played better because we committed very few mistakes against Tunisia.

Tunisia captain Atef El Khadim: I am very upset because we did not do anything to make our game better. I do not know why we played this way and that is very disappointing.

Mexico x Chile

Mexico forced the decider upon Chile, to eventually win 3-2 (19-25, 25-21,17-25, 25-22, 15-7). Mexico opposite Diego Gonzalez bested all scorers on the board with 26 points (23 attacks, two blocks and a service ace) with captain Raymond Stephens also helping out with 11 more points. Esteban Mulchi led the Chilean side, scoring a total of 19 points in the match.

The Norceca side posted a total of 66 attacks, showing their advantage in running their plays cohesively. While Chile started off strong, showing a good balance of offence and defense, their opponents persisted with every point. The Mexican side proved better in transition plays, and performed well with their counterattacks. The Chilean side needed to be stronger on serve (seven aces) and blocks (16 points) to be able to address the strengths of their competitors. Mexico forced the decider and continued their momentum all the way to their second victory in the competition.

Here are the post match reactions:

Mexico coach Gabriela Isela: We are familiar with Chile’s style for quite some time now. We have played against them many times, and for sure, they are a strong team. But today, we had the will to win, and we fought all the way to the end.

Mexico player Diego Gonzalez: I know that we can win but after some challenges, we have to find solutions because we want to win. At times, this means you have to be a leader on the court and help the captain guide the team.

Chile coach Ivan Villareal: I think we played really bad. Mexico was consistent with their kind of play, with good service and good side-out. We know how Mexico plays, and this could have been a good chance for us to win. We did not do our job today against Mexico. But we have to let it go and just move forward.

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