Slovenia Clinches First Semis Spot. Women’s U23 Worlds Day 4 Recap

  0 Liam Smith | September 14th, 2017 | 2017 U23 World Championships, Asian Volleyball, Brazilian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball


With its sweep against Thailand, hosts Slovenia not only qualified, but also secured pole position in Pool A, to be the first team to punch tickets the semifinals, all with a day to spare in pool play. Astounding wins by Bulgaria over Brazil and the Dominican Republic over China left the rest of the field wide open.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic shut out China and now have a great chance to make the semifinals of the competition for the third time in as many editions of the competition. But it was Pool which saw the tournament’s biggest surprise so far. Bulgaria caused the sensation of the week by demolished defending champions Brazil to remain the only undefeated team of the pool. It’s still not over, though, as Turkey dispatched Japan in five leaving scores to be settled on Friday, the closing day of pool play.

Below, you’ll find updated pools and FIVB recaps from all of the day’s action.

Pool A

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  Slovenia 4 0 12 16 1 16.000 256 180 1.422
2  China 2 1 6 8 6 1.333 178 165 1.079
3  Dominican Republic 2 1 5 9 9 1.000 270 256 1.055
4  Egypt 1 3 4 11 14 0.786 304 340 0.894
5  Argentina 1 3 3 9 15 0.600 311 347 0.896
6  Thailand 1 3 3 6 14 0.429 234 265 0.883

Pool B

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  Bulgaria 4 0 11 16 5 3.200 298 222 1.342
2  Brazil 3 1 9 12 5 2.400 236 199 1.186
3  Turkey 2 1 6 8 4 2.000 168 145 1.159
4  Cuba 1 3 4 7 12 0.583 235 254 0.925
5  Japan 1 2 3 7 8 0.875 204 204 1.000
6  Kenya 0 4 0 0 16 0.000 123 240 0.513

Slovenia x Thailand

Unstoppable Slovenia demolished Thailand 4-0 (15-8, 16-14, 15-10, 15-10) in 56 minutes before an ecstatic home crowd to claim the first of the four semifinals tickets with a day to spare in pool play. The result secures top place in Pool A for Slovenia, but they still need to wait until the end of pool play on Friday to find out their opponent in Saturday’s semifinal.

The hosts survived a bit of a scare in the second, but cancelled three Thai set points in their 5-0 run to come back. Middle blocker Tina Grudina and amazingly setter Eva Mori each bagged 10 points to top the match scorers table, though there was very well spread out across the whole Slovenia squad.

Here are the post match reactions:

Slovenia outside hitter, Lana Scuka: “Thailand play differently than what we are used to. We had to adapt on that and it took some time to do it. They serve well, and we had some problems, but we showed what are we capable of and won. We are all very happy that we will play in semifinal.”

Slovenia coach, Alessandro Chiappini: “Today’s match wasn’t easy, as we are not use to playing against this kind of opponent. We still did a good job today, and we used our service well. In some moments we made some mistakes. We must correct that. But thank God our players managed to come back in the second set and stayed focused in the most critical moments of the match.”

Thailand coach, Chamnan Dokmai: “We did well in the reception, defense and service. But during the match some players lost concentration. Against such a strong team as Slovenia you have to play perfect – and we just couldn’t that do today.”

Thailand captain, Boonlert Tichais: “I am very happy that we had a lot of fans on the tribunes today. But I am not happy with the result. We lost too many points because of the mistakes and that was our problem today.”

Brazil x Bulgaria

Bulgaria shocked reigning champions Brazil with a straight-set (15-10, 15-5, 16-14, 15-9) triumph. However, the East Europeans were denied an early semifinal spot as Brazil and Turkey can still overtake them in the final pool standings. Bulgaria remains unbeaten in Pool B with 11 points while Brazil, who had lost only one set prior to today, have 9 points on their score board.

Captain Gergana Dimitrova led the scoring for Bulgaria with eleven points as Mariya Dancheva added ten. Lorenne Teixeira contributed ten winners for the losing site as well. The key moment of the match came in the third set when the young Bulgarians stayed calm, preventing Brazil from a possible comeback (16-14).

Here are the post match reactions:

Bulgaria’s coach Antonina Zetova and captain Gergana Dimitrova were almost speechless after their unexpected win over Brazil.

Bulgaria coach Antonina Zetova: “In the first two sets, Brazil committed many mistakes. My team – on the other hand – was excited and ready to play a very strong game. I am very proud of my girls. They showed today how well they could play. I think we finally found our rhythm and our play here.”

Bulgaria captain Gergana Dimitrova: “I am very happy that we are moving towards the semifinals. I am speechless. This has not happened to our team for years. We have never believed that we could beat Brazil in straight sets.”

Brazil coach Wagner Coppini: “Bulgaria played very well today. We played below our level; the consequence was a straight-set loss. Now, we are focused on our next match against Cuba as we go step by step here.”

Brazil captain Drussyla Costa: “Bulgaria served very well. We lack patience to deal with this kind of challenge. The consequence of it was the final result of today’s match.”

Argentina x Egypt

Argentina just barely outlasted Egypt 4-3 (15-10, 15-6, 16-14, 14-16, 13-15, 11-15, 15-11). The result complicates the standings of Pool A, but sees the South Americans stay alive in the race for a ticket to the next round and a chance to fight for positions 5-8. With the point they picked up today, Egypt now has the edge over Thailand and Argentina in the standings.

With Sol Piccolo producing the second-best scoring performance of the tournament with 24 points, Argentina dominated play on the net, but provided Egypt with more than two sets’-worth of points from unforced errors. Egypt got off to a good early start in the first set, but Argentina made a 7-1 run to turn the game around. The African side missed their opportunity to cause damage to Argentina in the third, when they came back from 11-13 down to reach set point at 13-14 before some great defending allowed Sol Piccolo to score off two kills from the left and finish the set. In the fourth Argentina missed their own chance at wrapping up the game in straight sets when they blew 8-5 and 12-8 leads and then failed to capitalize on a match point at 14-13 before Doaa Elghobashy served two straight aces to keep Egypt alive.

With Egypt again coming from behind in the fifth to reach set point at 13-14, it was Aya Elshamy who brought it home with a spike off the block. But in the seventh, it was Argentina who came from behind after trailing 5-8 when the sides switched courts and turning it around with a 6-1 run to go 11-9 ahead and never look back. In addition to Piccolo’s 24, Daniela Bulaich and Antonela Fortuna also scored in double digits with 16 and 15 respectively for Argentina. Aya Elshamy was again Egypt’s best scorer, but her mere 23% killing efficiency (14/60) kept her tally at just 15 points.

Here are the post match reactions:

Argentina coach, Martin Lopez: “In the beginning we played the way we intended to and I think we did very well with blocking. Then Egyptian team began to attack more agressively but in the last set we still managed to perform well and win this game.”

Argentina outside hitter, Sol Piccolo: “I think it was a very intense game. At the beginning we did well, then we lost our focus, but then we managed to recover. We are very pleased with the result and hope to do even better in the future.”

Egypt coach, Maged Mohamed: “Our team is very tired and we also have problems with injuries. This, and also our lack of experience, affected our performance today. We would do much better without these shortcomings.”

Egypt captain, Farida Askalany: “Our best performance was before all the injuries, so if we could play with the same team we had at the beginning, I think we could win this match. We were not very good in the first few sets but then we had a comeback. Unfortunately it still wasn’t enough.”

Cuba x Kenya

Ailama Montalvo and Diaris Ramos helped Cuba to book their first victory, outplaying Kenya in straight sets (15-9, 15-10, 15-7, 15-12) in 55 minutes. Cuba’s Perez and Ailama had identical twelve-point outputs while Yvone Wavinya top scored for Kenya with eight points, including one ace. Cuba made the difference with a 39-19 spiking firework.

Cuba outclassed Kenya in the opening set with a strong 15-9 win. The young Africans continued to fight in the succeeding sets, but setter Gretell Borrero helped Cuba run clutch plays that ensured match victory. Kenya are still waiting for their first set win at the Women’s U23 World Championship, as they finished on a 0-15 set record back in 2013 and remain with a 0-16 balance here in Ljubljana so far.

Here are the post match reactions:

Cuba coach Wilfredo Robinson: “It’s always good to win. We needed this win very much. We still need to learn how to win. We need to learn every day how to play and win matches. On Friday, we will play our last pool match against Brazil who is the strongest team in our group. Those matches help us to improve.”

Cuba captain Diaris Ramos: “We are happy with our first win here in Ljubljana. The match was calm. However, tomorrow the strong Brazilian team is awaiting us. We have to commit less mistakes than today.”

Kenya coach Catherine Mabwi: “We didn’t start well. Later on, we improved but finishing the set remained our problem. In the second set, we started to play and fight. Cuba is a very good team. They are very tall and have powerful attacks and good blocks.”

Kenya captain Shyrine Jepkemboi: “We did our best today. We were expecting more; we tried to win this match. Nevertheless, we had bad luck in our match as well.”

Dominican Republic x China

The Dominican Republic obliterated China 4-0 (15-10, 15-13, 15-3, 15-10) in 51 minutes to gain andvantage in the race for a berth in the semifinals. China could have gained the second semifinal ticket from Pool A with any win for full points today. Now, the Dominican Republic need just three sets against Thailand on Friday to join Slovenia in the semis, regardless of what anyone else does. If the Dominican Republic qualify on Friday, it will be their third Final Four appearance in as many editions of the Women’s U23 World Championship, after a silver medal in 2013 and a bronze in 2015.

Here are the post match reactions:

Dominican Republic coach, Wagner Pacheco: “Because of this win now we have really good chances to play in the semifinals, but the match against Thailand [on Friday] will still be tough, because they have a really good team. But today my team played with heart. The girls were concentrated and aggressive, which is really important.”

Dominican Republic captain, Yokaty Perez: “We were preparing for this match from yesterday, because we know it was very important. We were really concentrated throughout the whole match. China play different volleyball with different system and different rotations. It was difficult for us, but thank God we won.”

China coach, Wu Sheng: “We didn’t have much time for preparation for this tournament and we have a problem with teamwork. Today the main problem was the blocking and this was the key for Dominican Republic to win the match.”

China captain, Chen Long: “We are all very sad because we lost this match, which was really important for us to get qualified fort the semifinals. Like the coach said, today the problem was our block. We didn’t block well and that is the reason we lost.”

Turkey x Japan

2015 runner-up Turkey scored their third win by seeing off Japan 4-1 (15-12, 15-5, 15-9, 12-15, 15-8). Thus, the Europeans kept their hopes for a semifinal spot alive but need a clear win over Bulgaria if Brazil beats Cuba. Japan, on the other hand, won’t be able to repeat their exceptional performances from 2013 (bronze medal) and 2015 (fourth place).

Beyza Arici, Asli Kalac, Hande Baladin and Ebrar Karakurt teamed up in all skill categories and combined for 31 attacks, 16 blocks and three aces. Rei Kudo and Nanami Hirose scored nine points each for Japan. The Turks outblocked the Asian side 19 (!) winners to four.

Turkey needed strong nerves in the early stages of the match as Japan got off to a good start. However, the Europeans fought back bravely to turn the tables at 12-12. It was the key moment in the match with Turkey wrapping up the first set 15-12 and continuing their run in the second, third and fifth set.

Here are the post match reactions:

Turkey coach Ataman Guneyligil: “It was a tough but very important match. In our preparations for the match against Japan, we saw some weaknesses in their attack and we worked on that. Our serves were very good and that is why they could not score.”

Turkey captain Çagla Akin: It was a very important match for us. We won it with great serves and blocks. Tactically we played very well. We are facing Bulgaria tomorrow. We have not watched them yet, but we will have to fight hard.”

Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo: “First of all I would like to congratulate Turkey for their performance today. We were preparing well for this match but we did not have enough strength to win it.”

Japan captain Misaki Yamauchi: “It’s a disappointment for us because this was a very important match for both teams. The Turkish team was mentally very strong. So were we, but they managed to overcome us. Unfortunately we lost and we are very sad.”

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