2018 FIVB Men’s World Championships – Preliminary Pool C
- Sept. 12-18, 2018
- Bari, Italy
- Pool C: No. 2 USA, No. 4 Russia, No. 11 Serbia, No. 16 Australia, No. 24 Tunisia, No. 30 Cameroon
Pool C got started with a trio of matches at the PalaFlorio in Bari, Italy, on Wednesday. Cameroon, which finished 21st at the 2014 Worlds started its 2018 campaign with a sweep of Tunisia. Volleyball Nations League champs Russia opened its world championship bid with a sweep of Australia. The United States and Serbia rounded out the day’s action with a five-set thriller, with Team USA coming out on top 15-10 in the final stanza.
Cameroon def. Tunisia 3-0 (25-20, 28-26, 25-21)
“At the beginning of the match we were overwhelmed because we were making our debut in this tournament, but soon we were able to stick together and to mount a comeback,” Cameroon captain Nathan Wounembaina said. “It has been a victory of the whole team. Our solid group made the difference in this match.”
Cameroon won the stat sheet, outdoing Tunisia in kills (45-40), blocks (11-8) and aces (5-2). Both teams committed 17 miscues.
Opposite David Patrick Feughouo posted a match-high 21 points (15 kills, 3 blocks, 3 aces) to lead Cameroon. Wounembaina (14) and Didier Sali Hile (12) also turned in double-digit scoring efforts. Wounembaina notched 14 kills, including 10 in Set 2, while Hile added eight putaways, three blocks and an ace. Herman Marie Engala also added three stuffs.
Opposite Hamza Nagga was the top scorer for Tunisia with 21 points (20 kills, 1 ace), including nine points in Set 2, but found little help. Mohamed Ali Ben Othmen Mildadi was next on the team with nine scores (8 kills, 1 block). Khaled Ben Slimene paced the team at the net with three blocks, while Nabil Miladi and Omar Agrebi added two stuffs apiece.
“This was the most suitable matchup for us, and we had chances to win it,” Tunisia coach Antonio Giacobbe said. “Cameroon were impeccable in service and in attack. It was very difficult for us to play our own game. There is some regret for the final point of the second set, with such an amazing spike by Wounembaina. Now it will be hard to face teams that are vying for the gold medal, such as USA, Serbia and Russia. We will do our best in the fixture against Australia. They don’t seem to be as strong a team, but they do have quality as well.”
Tunisia jumped out to a 5-0 lead early, prompting Cameroon to call timeout. The Lions responded after the break, earning a 16-15 lead en route to a 25-20 win.
In Set 2, Wounembaina and Nagga traded blows, with 10 and nine points respectively, but in the end a hitting error by Nagga was the final point in a 28-26 victory for Cameroon.
Tunisia looked to have control in Set 3, but a block was overturned on video challenge and Cameroon held on for the win.
Russia def. Australia 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16)
“It was important to win at the beginning of the tournament,” Russian coach Sergey Shliapnikov said. “The first match is always a little bit complicated. We were nervous at the beginning and there were some imperfections in our game, but once we reduced the number of errors, we turned the charts around. I am happy with my team’s performance. We will now think about the next challenges. We will do it with the usual tenacity and strength.”
After two back and forth sets, the Russians built an early lead and cruised to a 26-16 win to sew up the match.
Russia served up eight aces (to 3 for Australia) and also won the battles at the net (44-34 in kills and 7-3 in blocks).
Maxim Mikhaylov notched a match-high 17 points on 15 kills and two aces to lead the Russian attack. Dmitriy Muserskiy (13), Dmitry Volkov (10) and Artem Volvich (9) followed. Muserskiy turned in 11 kills and a team-best two blocks alongside Volkov. Volvich was one of three players with two aces to his credit alongside Mikhaylov and Alexander Butko. Russia used just one player off the bench in the match, Ilyas Kurkaev in Set 3.
Paul Carroll carried the Volleyroos with 13 points (12 kills, 1 ace). A handful of other players registered five or more points: Samuel Walker (8), Beau Graham (7), Luke Smith (6) and Nehemiah Mote (5). Graham put up a team-best two blocks, while Carroll, Walker and Mote each served up an ace. Coach Mark Lebedew utilized four subs trying to find an answer in Set 3, but to no avail.
USA def. Serbia 3-2 (15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10)
“It has not been an easy start for us,” USA captain Taylor Sander said. “Nevertheless, we took advantage of our strong service and we regrouped and levelled our disadvantage. It has been a fierce battle. We are very happy we won it. Now we think about the match against Australia, because we want to repeat this important result.”
In the end, the Americans made up for 33 errors with a slight advantage in kills (50-46), blocks (15-12) and aces (8-5). Team USA also had help from 26 Serbian errors and outhit its foes .393 to .309
Matt Anderson and Aaron Russell led a group of four Americans with double-digit scoring tallies, posting 19 points apiece. Anderson downed 15 kills and added two blocks and two aces, while Russell chipped in 15 kills, three blocks and an ace. Sander added 10 kills, a team-high four aces and two blocks, while Max Holt led the way at the net with four blocks to go with six kills. Setter Micah Christenson also managed three stuffs. Coach John Speraw used just one sub in the match, bringing in Kawika Shoji as a server in Set 2 and 4.
Uros Kovacevic managed 19 points on 14 kills, a team-best three aces and two blocks to guide the Serbian attack. Aleksandar Atanasijevic (14), Marko Ivovic (12) and Srecko Lisinac (9) followed. Atanasijevic downed 13 kills, while Ivovic added 10. Lisinac was the team’s top blocker, racking up five stuffs. Serbia utilized 11 of its 14 players in the match.
“I still have no explanation for this result, which cost us a painful defeat,” Kovacevic said. “We are a strong team with many good players. However, sometimes we do not manage to show our full potential and to perform as a solid group as we should. I regret we could not provide our Serbian supporters in the venue with a good result as we expected to do. We will take on Cameroon to change the flow of our performance in this tournament. We want to make it to the podium and we have the right assets to take up this challenge.”
Down 2-1 in the match, the United States built an eight-point advantage in Set 4 at 19-11 only to see Serbia slice the margin to two at 20-18. The teams split the next four points before the Americans forced a fifth set with a 3-0 run, with Russell supplying a kill and a block.
“We had some opportunities, particularly in that fourth set, to score a lot more points,” Speraw said. “We didn’t capitalize on those and that was obviously frustrating. It was about us not getting frustrated, knowing we were capable of scoring points and continuing to improve our play throughout the course of the match.”
Team USA carried the momentum into Set 5, scoring the first four points. Serbia was back within one at 5-4, but could not keep up after the Americans vaulted ahead with a Holt putaway and Anderson ace.
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|12 Sep||20:30||United States||3–2||Serbia||15–25||25–14||21–25||25–20||15–10||101–94|
|13 Sep||17:00||Australia||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
|15 Sep||20:30||United States||–||Russia||–||–||–||0–0|
|16 Sep||17:00||Cameroon||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
|18 Sep||17:00||United States||–||Tunisia||–||–||–||0–0|