USA eliminated by Italy from Girls’ U18 Worlds in game with 7pt set

  0 Liam Smith | August 25th, 2017 | African Volleyball, Asian Volleyball, Brazilian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Volleyball, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball, U.S. Women's Volleyball


Once again, fate betrays the author.  You can never be too careful as not to jinx anyone. Only a few days ago, when writing my recaps for Team USA’s horrendous game against Japan at The World University Games, I asked our readers when was the last time an American volleyball team had an 8 point set in international competitions. I even mentioned that only a deep dig in Wikipedia would be able to offer an answer for that question.

Ditto, only one day latter, Team USA’s U18 girls dropped EXACTLY eight points in their third set in a match against Brazil.

Today’s chapter is even sadder though, as eight became a historic low seven point set in the Girls’ U18 Quarterfinals against Italy. With an astonishing performance, Italy outclassed team USA prevaling 3-0 (25-7, 25-16, 25-15) with Elena Pietrini, Marina Lubian and Sarah Fahr all in top shape. Pietrini bagged another 14 points to keep enhancing her MVP numbers in the competition, while Lubian and Fahr were leveled with 11 points each, the latter with a tournament-high total of 7 blocking points. On USA, Madison Kubik was the only player with double digits as she had 10 tallies.

It was a matter of time for Italy to break free in the first set – an ace by Populini created an 8-4 score, then Fahr and Lubian were superb down the middle and Pietrini wrapped the set 25-7 with three aces in a row. USA did better on the next episode, but it was only to resist the Italian pace a bit longer as the Azzurrine moved to 18-11 after an ace by Fahr. The 2-0 materialised by 25-16 and the Italian performance remained spotless via Pietrini and Lubian, towards a definitive 25-15.

Here are the post match reactions:

Nunevil Brookler, USA’s libero: “Italy is one of the best teams in the tournament, if not the best. If we want to be like that we have to play our best, together as a team, and at first we were playing more individually instead that as a team, so we need to work really hard to be like that. I definitely think we could have played better, but you have to make things perfect against a rival like Italy.”

Jim Stone, USA’s coach: “We knew that Italy was probably better than we were, and we were going to have to play a great match to compete, and we didn’t play a great match. Italy is better than we are right now; we had some individuals that fought hard but we are just not up to their level. They are much more physical, they are higher on the net and they are more experienced. Besides our girls were on this environment for the first time, so they were nervous too.”

Marco Mencarelli, Italy’s coach: “We played a good game. We had continuity, we could always put pressure with our service, as we usually do, but today we could maintain it the whole game. That made the difference; we made it hard for them to side out. Our road is a long one, it doesn’t end here: one point at a time, one set at a time and one match at a time.”

Alessia Populini, Italy’s captain: “We played pretty well, but for sure we can do it better. Our main goal is to reduce as much as we can the error margin, knowing that our aggressive play is prone to errors. We can improve everything, but the will to win and the team union are untouchables.”

Below, you’ll find updated brackets and recaps from today’s action:

Championship Bracket

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

FIVB Recaps

Turkey x Germany

Turkey’s rising star Ebrar Karakurt had another display for the books as she spearheaded her side to defeat Germany 3-0 (25-20, 25-8, 30-28). Karakurt scored 18 times, but she wasn’t alone on the quest as Yaprak Erkek did her job with 14 points. The only other player in the game to reach double numbers was Germany’s Lina Alsmeier, with 10 tallies.

As one of the favourite players of the crowd in Rosario, Karakurt got a boost from the support and teamed up with Erkek for a 2-0 with different brands – a first set with dominance but short distances and a second one completely uneven. Germany answered on the third set and led to the 18th point, but Ilayda Iscimen and captain Ilkin Aydin unveiled some nice serves for a 24-all tie, allowing Turkey to wait for their chance and succeed 30-28.

Here are the post match reactions:

Sahin Catma, Turkey coach: “I think at this age is normal to lose some of the concentration during the game and that’s what happened on the third set. The important thing is how we came back again to lead the game, to the dominating position. We all know that we had to win to be in the semifinals and we fought until the end for that. We regained our order and every player did what they had to do during the game.”

Ebrar Karakurt, Turkey player: “I am so proud of my teammates because we are doing a great job, we are fighting a lot and I’m very excited with our attitude. During the last set we thought it was over and we lost our focus, but we started fighting again and we did our best to win the game. This is a show for me, I love to feel the support of the people and I can hardly find words to describe this. I cannot be a cold player, I like to play aggressively and maybe that’s why people cheer for me.”

Emma Cyris, Germany captain: “Turkey play very good volleyball, they are strong and we come from a different hall as the one in Santa Fe so it took time for us to adapt. Anyway, we played well at some moments and I feel it has been a good match. There’s no other reason than their strength. I feel very positive about the next matches.”

Jens Tietbohl, Germany coach: “It was not easy for us to deal with the really good hitters from Turkey and so we were under pressure and ended up committing a lot of errors, on service and attack. We are not precisely happy, but we do feel OK with our moments against such a great team.”

Russia x Japan

With 14 points from Polina Shemanova and 13 stuff blocks, Russia wore out the Japanese defense and earned a 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 32-30) victory . Side to side with Shemanova was Valeriya Shevchuk with 11 points, while middle-blockers Victoria Pushina and Irina Soboleva crafted 8 of the total 13 successful blocks of the European champions. Despite those amazing numbers, the most prolific scorer of the game was on the other end of the court as Japan’s Haruna Soga finished with 18 points. Yuki Nishikawa chipped in with 12 of her own.

Russia forced Japan to trail due to their might and physical conditions, and although the Asian side used their defence to reduce the gap, it was only to 24-22 as Russia clinched the first set right after. Japan advanced 10-12 on the next set, but Soboleva and Shemanova shifted the course of the game to 17-14 and precisely a block, Russia’s main feature, set the 25-19. The third chapter showed a courageous Japan still digging and countering, as Nonaka sparked a 23-20 lead, but Russia disabled all the set balls, stepped ahead and won the game 32-30.

Here are the post match reactions:

Angelina Nikashova, Russia captain: “We are a good team. Our coach managed very well our emotions and that’s why we won. The key was in the blocking and serving phase of the game, we made the difference there. We need to show our best game, to prepare to do our best tomorrow.”

Alexander Karikov, Russia coach: “We were better and stronger today. It was a derby between the European champion and the Asian champion, and our block and attack were stronger than their defense.”

Daichi Saegusa, Japan coach: “First of all, congratulations to Russia. They are a really good team and it was a tough match for us. We started well but they blocked us a lot and our attacks were stopped. In the third set, we served better but we had a high error rate and that’s how the game ended.”

Dominican Republic x Argentina

In front of a fantastic crowd of over 8’000 fans in Rosario, hosts Argentina were denied of a semifinal spot in the hands of a solid Dominican Republic led by Yanlis Feliz en route to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-18) win.

Feliz was the main actress of a Dominican comeback to win the first set after a six-point deficit, marking a key moment of the game. The Caribbean opposite completed 9 points, while powerful Madeline Guillen placed atop of the charts with 15 tallies. As for the home team, Sofia Meinardi scored 12 times.

The hall reached a boiling point when Argentina was ahead 16-10 on the opening episode, but Dominican Republic kept fighting and Feliz had her moment of glory – after a serving streak from setter Lalane, the opposite gave her team a 20-19 score and she added three more points for a 25-21 that stunned the home girls. After that, Dominican Republic turned into a machine, with Guillen blocking, serving and spiking, as the gaps kept widening. It was Feliz who wrapped up the 25-17 of the second set and an 8-1 for the visiting side gave the impression the end was nigh. There was time for two more aces by Guillen and the final 25-18 spike by Martinez.

Here are the post match reactions:

Alexandre Ceccato, Dominican Republic coach: “The team played well, but I think Argentina felt the pressure of playing in front of such a big crowd. They were a little below of their usual level and that helped us. We planned on starting the game strongly and it was the opposite, but we could change during the match and improve. To arrive here was already a dream, but now we have to keep dreaming. We know Russia is the favourite team tomorrow, but we will try our best. The girls are ready to do it.”

Yanlis Feliz, Dominican Republic player: “To be honest, we expected a bit more from Argentina today. We know they can play well, but we just were better today. We didn’t feel the pressure, it was the complete opposite – when we play in a full house, we do it even better. We still have a long way to go, but we are hoping for the best; we will battle for what we all want.”

Angeles Ligorria, Argentina player: “We did everything we could to win; the preparation was the correct one. Now it’s difficult to analyse the match, but we will try to stay positive and learn from this experience. Personally, I think I could have played better; I didn’t know what else to do. If we have won that first set, the match would have been totally different. It’s not the same to finish 5th than 8th, so I hope we don’t stop playing – we will go for it.”

Estanislao Vachino, Argentina coach: “We knew it would be hard; we had it all planned and until the last moments of the first set, we were playing just right. After that, our mistakes and their own virtues made them superior. We have fine players, but today we couldn’t manage the crowd. We have played a fantastic tournament; if I was told a few months ago that we would play quarterfinals without losing any matches, I would have signed on that with no doubts. We have nothing to regret.”

9th–16th places

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

Brazil x Poland

Brazil defeated Poland 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-16,25-17). The team coached by Mauricio Thomas needed 1 hour and 41 minutes to claim the victory after an adverse first set with a powerful performance by the Polish players guided by Julia Szczurowska who aced 7 times in the game.

Julia Isabelle Bergman also led the Brazilian offense with 16 points (including four aces). Tiara Santos and Beatriz Pereira scored 14 apiece, while Daniela Seibt scored 13. Despite Poland’s good start, the Europeans surrendered 17 points against 17 by Brazil.

Peru x Slovenia

Kiara Montes and Flavia Montes scored 15 points apiece as Peru defeated Slovenia in four sets by scores of 25-20, 19-25, 25-22 and 25-17. On the Slovenian side, Nika Bavdaz and Nika Cigale tallied 10 apiece.

Peruvian players capitalized their blocking game and prevailed 0-6 with five blocks by Flavia Montes, meanwhile in services, Slovenia was a little bit superior with 6 collective aces against 4 by Peru, but surrendered 38 points by error. Peru only gave up 26 units in a match that lasted 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Here are the post match reactions:

Kiara Montes, Player of Peru: “I think today we played with a lot of energy, in some moments we didn’t play well, but we knew how to recover and we had a good attitude, that’s an important point for us. I feel happy because of the victory and also with my performance. Being an outside hitter is not easy, but our coach gives me confidence and that’s important for me.”

Marco Queiroga, Head Coach of Peru: “We ended in a very good way, maybe at first we suffered the mental and physical wear, but this are games that any team wants to play. Anyway we need to take our responsibility and we did it. Sometimes losing one set can be really dangerous, and the third one was very important. Hopefully we won it. The match was hard, but we want to get as high as possible so our objective is to win the matches that follow.”

Tonka Pucnik, Player of Slovenia: “I think we were really comfortable at the beginning of the game, but then we had some problems in reception. Peru played very well and they fought a lot. We tried also and I’m proud of my team, we gave everything, but today it wasn’t enough. I think we can play better in the following games.”

Joze Casar, Head Coach of Slovenia: “We had a good start, but then we got struggled. Even in the set we won, we almost did it by accident. We gave up fighting, we did what we could. Maybe we didn’t play on our 100% and it wasn’t enough to beat them. They played well, they were good in defense and on the organization of the game, so they won. We should get better and fitter to get the best position possible now.”

Belarus x Colombia

Belarus defeated Colombia in straight sets by scores of 25-16, 25-19 and 25-21. Tatsiana Kholad scored 13 points while Alina Egorowa and Vera Kastsiuchyk finished with 10 apiece for Belarus. On the Colombian side, Valerin Carabali and Valentina Bahaman recorded 9 apiece. Colombia showed a better blocking performance with a final 8-4 balance, but services made the difference in favor of Belarus with 11 aces (3 by Tatstiana Kholad and 3 by Yuliya Kisliuk). Colombia gave up 22 points while Belarus 23.

Here are the post match reactions:

Lizaveta Shupliak, Player of Belarus: “I’m very happy because my team got the victory. We hope tomorrow we can repeat and play a good match, we will be preparing it. We really want to get another triumph on our next game.”

Darlevis Mosquera, Player of Colombia: “Today we didn’t show attitude. It was a match that we could have won, but we didn’t do the necessary. We hope tomorrow we can show our best level and give everything we have.”

Antonio Rizola, Head Coach of Colombia: “Belarus is such a hard team and they have everything to be among the best eight teams in the world. My team respected that too much and we didn’t play today. The inexperience and mental debility of the team were shown today. We need to be patient now, we have to prepare for our next game because there’s a lot to keep improving and growing.”

Korea x Serbia

Korea stopped a Serbian reaction in the fourth set to impose them a 3-1 defeat (25-17, 23-25, 25-14 and 25-23). Hyemin Park and Yesol Lee closed with 17 points apiece for the Asian team while Jiyun Jeong scored 11 and Juah Lee tallied 10. Barbara Batinic and Jovana Mirosavlevic (with 6 aces) topped for Serbia with 11 points each.

Serbia tied the fourth set 22-22 when it looked like there would be a chance for a tiebreak chance. However, Cho’s pupils maintained patience and concentration to solve the match and edge their rivals. Services and blocks were tight between both teams. Serbia gave up 28 points while Korea 24.

Here are the post match reactions:

Lee Yesol, Player of Korea: “Our game wasn’t really good. I think we can play better, we could have won it easily, but we made mistakes and the game got complicated. Tomorrow we want to be more concentrated in the game and improve today’s difficulty.”

Wanki Cho, Head Coach of Korea: “We played very good in service, we have practiced that, but on other tactical things we weren’t so good. We practiced two days about attack and defense positions, but today it didn’t work as we expected. Hope tomorrow we can correct that”.

Barbara Batinic, Player of Serbia: “Korea was better in reception and service, we were without energy and they did things in a good way. I hope we can win tomorrow against Poland. They’re a very good team with good players, but I think we can make a good match.”

Jovo Cakovic, Head Coach of Serbia: “I would like to congratulate Korea, today they played really good on every fundamental. Their service, defense, and attack were perfect and they had a very good energy as well. We played without energy, without reception and they were better. Tomorrow is a new day and we need to improve.”

17th–20th Places

Cuba x China

China snapped a losing streak of five matches after defeating Cuba in a very close 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 29-27) with three players topping the charts. Cui Meichen, Liu Yu and Che Wenhan were aligned with 10 points each as the main contributor of the Chinese victory, while Zhang Jiaxin fired 4 aces. Cuba was led by Yamisleydis Viltres and Daima Del Río, both with 4 stuff blocks and a total of 10 tallies, and Elizabeth Vicet trailed one point behind them.

China acquired a four-point lead in the first set with sharper serves and won that one 25-23 despite a tough resistance led by Cuba’s Cese. Che Wenhan carved the way to a 6-2 next as the story repeated itself – after the Asian dominance throughout almost the entire set, Cuba tried to reach the tie but the final score was an identical 25-23. Cuban captain Vicet attempted the comeback and her side could place on range at the final track (23-23), but Liu Yu spiked twice and closed the match 29-27.

Here are the post match reactions:

Elizabeth Vicet, Cuba captain: “We have had a very passive attitude on the last games. We couldn’t apply the directions of our coach, with too many mistakes from us all along. China are not that strong, but we couldn’t improve and lower our error rate. We failed in every element; we just didn’t know how to do things well. We still want to go home with a win and we will go for that tomorrow.”

Tomás Fernandez, Cuba coach: “We had the goal of placing among the best 10 teams of the World Championship. They are very young girls and after being unable to fulfill our objective it’s very difficult for us to recover psychologically. Our amount of unforced errors is a proof – it’s something not usual in this team. The loss against Germany on the first match had conditioned us since then; we have been playing the World Championship without forgetting that result. We also lost against Argentina in five and there we went down again.”

Xu Jiande, China coach: “In the other matches we showed a lower level than today. We are a young team that needs to grow a lot; we can be better than this.”

Thailand x Mexico

Rosario fans have taken Thailand as one of their favourites and the Asian team rewarded them with another win, this time a 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19) over Mexico. Thailand’s Piyarat Buddawong gathered 15 points and emerged as the main scorer of the game, well supported by teammate Aonanong Saisri, who came from the bench to complete 10 shots. The same number was capped by Mexico’s Uxue Guereca and Melanie Quintero added 9, all of them from successful spikes.

The first set wasn’t decided until the two final rallies, as the point-by-point basis was rock-solid with Buddawong and Castro leading their sides. An unforced error gave Thailand a 25-23 score and the Mexican remained out of focus until a Thai 11-7 right next, a gap that Buddawong transformed into a 25-20. Still haunted by errors, Mexico slowly deflated and Thailand marched to the three-nil win with a final 25-19.

Here are the post match reactions:

Piyarat Buddawong, Thailand player: “I really appreciate how each one of us helped each other through the games. We are more confident now and that’s why we could defeat Mexico today. This result can be important for us to keep improving for next challenges, such as the Juniors stage.”

Jarun Niemtuptim, Thailand coach: “I’m glad because now the communication between the players is quite better. As we’re playing very far from home, we have flown over many time zones and day by day we’re adjusting ourselves as a team. As this is a World Championship, to be at the 17th place would be OK for us, but I think the girls can do even better.”

Melanie Quintero, Mexico player: “We played well despite the 3-0 loss. We could serve well at moments as well as attack; we should have been better on defense though. Thailand moved the ball a lot and it was hard for us to prepare for their spikes. Now we hope to win against China, it won’t be easy but I’m confident we can do it.”

Ricardo Naranjo, Mexico coach: “After the last matches we had a nice rhythm, with ups and downs but always very focused. I think our serve wasn’t up to our expectations and maybe we would have needed a bit more energy and attitude. On the other hand, Thailand played with a very low error rate, they waited for us to fail and that costed us the game.”

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