Surprising Semifinals Match Ups Set. Women’s U23 Day 5 Recap.

  0 Liam Smith | September 15th, 2017 | 2017 U23 World Championships, African Volleyball, Asian Volleyball, Brazilian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball


The last day of pool play in Ljubljana produced shocking results. Brazil, current world champions, and dominant for most of the tournament, had its semifinals hopes shattered by Cuba, who didn’t have any classification hopes. Indeed, yesterday’s defeat to Bulgaria really cost Brazil more than they bargained for.

Slovenia and Bulgaria will highlight one of the semifinals, as Turkey and the Dominican Republic will also battle it out. Below, you’ll find updated pools and FIVB recaps from all of today’s action.

Pool A

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  Slovenia 5 0 15 20 2 10.000 331 230 1.439
2  Dominican Republic 3 2 9 16 13 1.231 429 390 1.100
3  China 3 2 9 12 12 1.000 302 304 0.993
4  Thailand 2 3 5 10 17 0.588 332 364 0.912
5  Egypt 1 4 4 12 18 0.667 354 415 0.853
6  Argentina 1 4 3 11 19 0.579 390 435 0.897

Pool B

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  Turkey 4 1 12 16 6 2.667 310 254 1.220
2  Bulgaria 4 1 11 17 9 1.889 358 292 1.226
3  Brazil 3 2 9 13 9 1.444 302 271 1.114
4  Cuba 2 3 7 11 13 0.846 307 320 0.959
5  Japan 2 3 6 12 12 1.000 313 306 1.023
6  Kenya 0 5 0 0 20 0.000 153 300 0.510

Argentina x China

China rallied from two sets down to take Argentina 4-2 (11-15, 13-15, 15-8, 15-11, 18-16, 16-14). Ye Zin, who came on off the bench in the third set was decisive in turning the game as she emerged joint best scorer together with Yunlu Wang for China with 17 points each. Sol Piccolo of Argentina was again top scorer of the game with 18 points, but it was just not enough.

Though China seemed to lack motivation today and Argentina played a passionate and highly entertaining game in their bid score their second win in the tournament, the Asian side were just that little bit more consistent and efficient. Argentina missed a great opportunity to go 2-3 ahead when the led 11-13 in the fifth and then blew three set points before China brought it home after a great dig by libero Meizi Gong and a kill by Ye Jin. Indeed, that set was exactly what China needed to secure at least one point that was enough to see them through to the next round.

Here are the post match reactions:

China coach, Wu Sheng: “After five pool matches I actually see the improvement of my players. We got the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the world, which made good results in the past. In general, I am satisfied with all five matches.”

China captain, Chen Long: “We didn’t do quite well in the first two sets, but the whole team didn’t give up. We remained focused and did very well in the second stage of the match. I think we made a big improvement in blocking and defense in our five matches so far.”

Argentina coach, Martin Perez: “I think it was a tough match. I think this was the match in which my players showed the most stability in the game. We only needed a point to close the match and to enter the second stage of the competition. China played very well.”

Argentina outside hitter, Irene Verasio: “I think the game was good. We started well, but China improved in the later stages of the match. But we are playing much better now than we did in the beginning, so I think this will help us to play ever better in the future.”

Japan x Kenya

Japan made short work of Kenya in their last pool match. The Asians powered to an undisputed straight-set (15-7, 15-8, 15-6, 15-9) win against the chanceless African side. With today’s win, Japan have improved their win-loss record to 2-3. For Kenya, the 2017 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship campaign ended today with their fifth defeat in as many matches, with no sets won.

Misaki Yamauchi finished with a match-high nine kills for Japan while Yvone Wavinya and Yvone Sinaida contributed five points apiece for the losing side. Kenya showed huge efforts to challenge Japan in the early stages of the match but could not cope with the speed and precision the Asians displayed. After the second set, Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo sent in four new players – however – it had no influence on the outcome of the match. After only 51 minutes, Japan closed it out with a Kenya service flying long.

Here are the post match reactions:

Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo: “My players were more focused today. After yesterday’s match when Turkey stopped our attacking, we tried to improve our play in attack. We succeeded and that is one reason why we won today against Kenya. As we might play against China in the 5-8 semis, I gave a chance to my other players in order to prepare well against the strongest Asian volleyball team.”

Japan captain Misaki Yamauchi: “We are very happy to win this match as it was very important for us. Our tactics was to win as much points as possible with our attacks. For us every match counts as we would like to achieve the highest possible ranking in this championship.”

Kenya coach Catherine Mabwi: “My players tried their best in their first international tournament. They had a very good experience here. I believe when they return they will work on their mistakes. In the next championships, they will perform better. We had many problems with injuries. It becomes a bit of a challenge to play with 12 players. This has really affected my team and I have to admit it has also disoriented me.”

Kenya captain Shyrine Jepkemboi: “We played well today but at some point during the match we lost concentration. It has been in general a good experience for us to play here in Ljubljana; we learnt a lot from other players as these were our first international matches.”

Thailand x Dominican Republic

Thailand scored a remarkable 4-3 (9-15, 12-15, 15-12, 11-15, 15-12, 15-11, 21-19) win over the Dominican Republic. Despite their loss, the ‘Queens of the Caribbean’ join Slovenia in the top four. The hosts had already qualified since the previous evening. The Dominicans had sealed their ticket after taking their third set for a 3-1 lead.

Thailand’s Thanacha Sooksod registered a tournament high of 32 points, which is also a competition record regardless of scoring system used. She is only the third player to break the 30-point mark in the history of the Women’s U23 World Championship, after 31 points by Italy’s Valentina Diouf in 2013 against Egypt and 30 by Egypt’s Aya Elshamy on the opening day this year against the Dominican Republic.

Thailand were on the brink of elimination when they trailed 11-13 in the seventh, but a sideout followed by back-to-back aces by Thanacha Sooksod brought the Asian side to match point at 14-13. The Dominicans retook the lead at 16-15 after a delay red card for an incorrect substitution, but Thailand cancelled that and went ahead on another ace by Watchareeya Nuanjam. Thailand still needed to cancll another Dominican match point at 18-19, before Wipawee Srithong got the final point in with a blockout from the left. Gaila Gonzalez scored 27 points for the Dominican Republic.

Here are the post match reactions:

Thailand captain, Tichaya Boonlert: “We wanted to play really good today, since this could be our last performance here in Ljubljana. We didn’t feel under pressure and we earned ourselves another two matches to play and we are really happy.”

Thailand coach, Chamnan Dokmai: “Our team fought really hard today. We knew that this could be our last match at the championship, so we had nothing to lose. It was really hard to play against the Dominican Republic, but we still made it to a win.”

Dominican Republic captain, Yokaty Perez: “We can’t be really satisfied with today’s match. We started well, but when we had to close the match, we started to do mistakes and let the opponent to take control of the game.”

Dominican Republic coach, Wagner Pacheco: “We are really, really happy with proceeding to semifinals. This really means a lot for our country, but on the other hand we are disappointed with our performance today.”

Turkey x Bulgaria

2015 runner-up Turkey handed Bulgaria their first defeat at 4-1 (15-9, 15-12, 15-11, 10-15, 15-13), thus advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. Turkey’s outside hitter Hande Baladin and opposite Ebrar Karakurt scored 16 kills apiece for the winning side while Silvana Chausheva was the top scorer for Bulgaria with 12 points, including four blocks.

Karakurt (nine points) and Baladin (5) teamed up to lead Turkey to an impressive 15-9 and 15-12 lead after two sets. Turkey had the edge 15-8 in attacks and 2-0 in aces. Bulgaria slowly but steadily found their rhythm in the beginning of the third set. However, it was not good enough. The Turkish players showed great fighting spirit to finish the third set 15-11 in their favour as well. Bulgaria bounced back strongly in the fourth set (15-10) and pushed hard to continue their run in the fifth, but eventually could not prevent their opponents from securing their semifinal ticket here in Pool B in Ljubljana.

Here are the post match reactions:

Turkey coach Ataman Guneyligil: “If I sit down, this means that I am trying to relax my team. Sometimes this kind of reaction works well for the team and I am sure it did today. We were receiving very well today, that is why we could organize our offense better than on other days. As we lost the fourth set, we have to wait on the outcome of the last match between Brazil and Cuba. We improve our game from match to match and we intend to show our best in the matches to come as well.”

Turkey captain Çagla Akin: “I am very happy we are through to the semifinals. Congratulations to Bulgaria, they pushed us to our limits. However, today we played our real game. Turkey is back!”

Bulgaria coach Antonina Zetova: “In the first two sets, Turkey served very well. They have a fantastic service. We started playing in the fourth set and this is very late against an opponent such as Turkey. Turkey is a very experienced team, runner-up from the last championships. They wanted badly to win this game. Our girls do not have that kind of experience. Nevertheless, I told them that I am proud of them. We have two wait to see the outcome of the Brazil versus Cuba match to see whether we have qualified for the semi-finals or not. For sure we are very sad.”

Bulgaria captain Gergana Dimitrova: “We failed to play at the same level as yesterday. We could not find our rhythm. We need more time, more practice and more matches on this level. Today we served poorly and we committed too many mistakes in passing and attacking.”

Slovenia x Egypt

Already qualified since the previous day to the semifinals as pool leaders, Slovenia wrapped up their pool play obligations undefeated – but not before Egypt gave them a run for their money in the 4-1 (15-5, 15-17, 15-10, 15-10, 15-8) win. Slovenia had nothing at stake, but coach Alessandro Chiappini still stuck to his regular lineup throughout most of the match and only rested opposite Iza Mlakar after the third set and setter Eva Mori in the fifth. He still, nonetheless, gave every single one of his players some time on court. Eventually, the final score saw Thailand qualify to play for positions 5-8 starting in Saturday, with Egypt eliminated and ranked 9th overall.

Egypt controlled the game in the second set crusing to 9-13 and 12-14 leads, but it still took them a total of four set points to bring it home. It was all over after that swan song of Egypt as the African side returned exhausted and resigned to their fate. Pia Blazic with 14 points led the scoring for Slovenia, with Iza Mlakar adding another 10.

Here are the post match reactions:

Slovenia coach, Alessandro Chiappini: “I’m very happy for the girls. It’s nice that we won, though it doesn’t count too much. We need to be focused for tomorrow, because we’ll fight for the medals.”

Slovenia top scorer Pia Blazic: “We were qualified for the semifinals already before this match, so we could start this game more relaxed, but we still wanted to win. Furthermore, the girls that don’t play that much got a chance to play. We’re already excited about tomorrow and we’re going for the final.”

Egypt coach, Maged Mohamed: “We didn’t play so good as in the past matches. We have problems with the injury of our setter, our top scorer Aya Elshamy also has some problems with her muscle. My players were as well very demotivated because of the win of Thailand against the Dominican Republic. But this is sport and we will try to be better next time.”

Egypt setter Mariam Ebrahim: “Our goal was to get among the best eight teams. Sadly we didn’t succeed and we’ll have to raise our performance in the next competitions.”

Cuba x Brazil

Cuba outplayed reigning champions Brazil 4-1 (15-12, 9-15, 15-10, 17-15, 16-14) in an hour and 16 minutes to destroy Brazil’s hope for a semifinal spot. Thus, Bulgaria booked the last semifinal spot from Pool B with one win and two points more than the titleholders. Cuba, on the other hand, finish fourth in Pool B to stay in the competition for the 5-8 semifinals.

Cuba’s Heidy Alvarez led the Caribbean with a match-high 23 kills, including one block and one ace while Edinara Brancher scored 17 winners for Brazil. Cuba had the edge in attacks (46-39), Brazil led the stats in blocking (11-9) and serving (5-1). However, the reigning champions committed more mistakes than Cuba (16-11). The Caribbean jumped out for a 15-12 opening set win before Brazil bounced back in the second period to draw level. Outstanding Alvarez continued her power play in the third and fourth set while the young Brazilians could not find a system to stop her. Brazil saved three match balls in the end of the fifth set but eventually could not prevent the Cuban powerhouse to cause the biggest sensation so far in the tournament. Captain Diaris Perez ended it with a blistering winner from the right side.

Here are the post match reactions:

Cuba coach Wilfredo Robinson: “In reality Cuba is a very good team that needs foremost to win, to play against tough teams, and especially that the players believe in themselves that they can win a match against the strong teams as well. Now we feel very good. Today’s win gave my players strength and self-confidence.”

Cuba captain Diaris Perez: “Last night we had a meeting and spoke about the match against Brazil which was very important for us. We talked a lot about how to finish sets what caused us so many problems in the previous matches. We worked a lot on this and the result was seen on the court today.”

Brazil coach Wagner Coppini: “I was worried as we did not play our game and our side-out was not working well. Our greatest problem was our lack of strategy. Our offense was too weak.”

Brazil captain Drussyla Costa: “We were not able to play our game today. We felt insecure on the court. We did not have the right answer to the Cuban play. We do not know whether this was due to the match we lost against Bulgaria yesterday or something else. We are very disappointed.”

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