Lausanne, Switzerland, Aug. 28, 2014 - The final four spots into the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014 will be settled on the final day of the first round. Thus far 12 teams have been ticketed to the Final Round out of the 24 first round teams that comprise the field.
Three matchups on Sunday involve head-to-heads among undefeated teams. In Pool A, Italy (12 points) meet Dominican Republic (10 points). In Pool B, both Brazil and Serbia head into their final first-round match with 11 points having been extended to five sets in at least one match thus far. Russia and the United States will meet in Pool C with both teams having the maximum 12 points.Pool A:Tunisia and Argentina seek first victory in last first round match:
Both Argentina and Tunisia are 0-4 with zero points in the standings, and one team will leave the first round with one victory. This will be the first meeting between these two countries at the World Championship. They did meet once at a major tournament: Argentina won in straight sets at the 1999 World Cup. Tunisia will meet a South American team at the World Championship for the first time. Argentina won both of their World Championship matches against African teams by 3-0: Egypt in 1990 and Kenya in 2002. Against Croatia on Saturday, Tunisia celebrated their first set won at the World Championship, despite losing 3-1. In total, they have lost 54 sets. Only one African nation has won more than one set at World Championships. Kenya won six in 21 matches. In matchround 3, Tunisia scored 26 points against Germany, their fewest in a World Championship match since the introduction of the rally point system. In matchround four against Croatia, they set their best ever mark with 60 points. Argentina have lost their first four matches in Pool A. In each of their part four World Championship appearances, they won at least one match. Argentina have lost their last seven World Championship matches, their longest losing streak ever in the competition. Argentina have won two of their last 15 World Championship matches, both against African nations.Croatia and Germany to settle third, fourth place head-to-head:
Germany and Croatia have seven points and 2-2 records going into the final day of the first round. The winner will finish third and the loser fourth as they both will advance to the second round. In their only World Championship meeting, November 2010, Germany defeated Croatia in straight sets. At the European Championship these teams clashed seven times (between 1993 and 2013) with Croatia winning four of them. Both teams also met at the 2000 Olympic Games with Germany beating Croatia 3-1. Croatia have lost their last three World Championship matches against CEV nations (2 v ITA, 1 v GER) in straight sets. Croatia are on two wins at this World Championships, equalling their number of victories from their previous participation (2010) and two shy of their only other appearance (4 in 1998). Croatia can win three matches in one World Championship group stage for the first time ever. Germany lost against Italy on Saturday. They look to avoid their first back-to-back defeats since the final stage in 2006. In each of the last four matches between Germany and a fellow CEV nation, both teams claimed at least one set. Germany can win three of their first five matches at the World Championship. In 2006 and 2010, they won four of the first five.Italy and Dominican Republic meet to determine first in Pool A:
Italy and Dominican Republic are 4-0 in this year's World Championship. But due to being stretched to five sets twice, Italy lead Pool A with 12 points to Dominican Republic's 10. A victory or five-set loss will earn Italy the top seed. Neither team can finish below second. This will be the second World Championship meeting between Italy and Dominican Republic. In 1978, Dominican Republic defeated Italy 3-2, winning only six points in the two sets lost to Italy (1-15, 15-10, 15-13, 5-15, 15-10). Both teams met recently at the 2014 World Grand Prix. Italy defeated Dominican Republic in straight sets (in Sassari, ITA). They also clashed at the 2012 Olympic Games in the group phase with Italy winning by 3-1. Against Germany on Saturday, Italy lost their first set of the 2014 World Championships. Now China are the only team in the tournament without losing a set. Italy have won seven of their last 10 World Championship matches against NORCECA nations, losing only against Cuba in this span (3 defeats). Italy are on a six match winning streak at World Championships, their longest run since winning eight in 2006. Dominican Republic have won their last two World Championship matches against CEV nations and they can win three in a row for the first time ever. In each of their last 13 matches against CEV nations (since 1978), Dominican Republic have at least won two sets. Dominican Republic have lost a total of 98 sets in the competition. If they lose two against Italy, they become the 18th nation with 100+ sets conceded.Pool B:Turkish victory over Cameroon would send them to second round:
Turkey is 1-3 with five points sitting in fourth place, one point behind third-place Bulgaria. Turkey opened its Saturday match against Brazil with two set victories before succombing to the No. 1 team in five sets. Turkey came close to a sensation on Saturday, losing 3-2 against Brazil after a 2-0 lead. Turkey handed Brazil their first sets lost at the 2014 World Championships. Turkey have lost their last two matches at World Championship. They can lose three in a row for the first time ever in the competition. Turkey have won at least two sets in each of their last three World Championship matches. They can equal their longest run of matches with two sets won, set in 2010 (4 straight). Turkey need two sets to become the 24th nation with 50 sets won in the competition. Cameroon has yet to win a match in 2014. This will be the first meeting between these teams at the World Championship. It will also be their first meeting at a major tournament. Turkey have played an African team once at the World Championship. In 2006, they beat Egypt 3-0. Cameroon have played nine matches at World Championships with only one set won. This was the third set in a 3-1 defeat against Canada in their first match of this year’s tournament. In their only other World Championship participation (2006), Cameroon totalled 237 points in five matches. After four matches in 2014, they already have 226. On Saturday against Bulgaria, Christelle Tchoudjang Nana (14) and Laetitia Crescence Moma Bassoko (11) combined for 42% of Cameroon’s 59 total points.Bulgaria and Canada fighting for a second round berth:
Bulgaria are in third place in Pool B with a 2-2 record and six points, but find themselves in a battle for two open slots from Pool B into the second round. Canada, too, could sneak into the second round if they can improve on their 1-3 record and three standings points and Turkey falters against Cameroon. These teams have met three times before in the competition. Canada won their first meeting in 1974 after trailing two sets. Bulgaria was victorious in 1982 (also after trailing two sets) and in 1986 (3-1). Canada are winless in their last 16 World Championship matches against European opposition. No other team has a longer losing streak against CEV teams. Puerto Rico follows with 14 defeats in a row. Bulgaria have won nine of their 13 World Championship matches against NORCECA sides, losing only against Cuba (3 times) and Canada (once). Bulgaria have won their last two matches in the competition and can win a third straight for the first time since winning their first three matches of the 2002 World Championship. Bulgaria, who have secured their place in the second round, have always survived the first group stage of a World Championship. Kremena Kamenova led Bulgaria in their win against Cameroon with 12 points, without entering the field in the third (and final) set. Canada have lost a total of 39 matches at World Championships, of which 20 came against CEV nations. Canada will try to win a second match in a single World Championship for the first time since 1990. In 2002 and 2010, they recorded one win. On Saturday against Serbia, Canada managed to score only seven points in the first set, their lowest single set total since the invention of the rally point system. They immediately followed up by scoring 28 in set 2, their highest ever total in the competition.Brazil and Serbia tied for first in Pool B:
Brazil and Serbia are 4-0 with 11 points, each having been pushed to five sets before winning. The winner will take the top seed out of Pool B into the second round. Brazil and Serbia (as Serbia and Montenegro) met in the semifinal of the 2006 World Championship, their only meeting in the competition. Brazil won the match by a 3-1 scoreline. Brazil are unbeaten in their meetings with Serbia at major tournaments. They beat Serbia at the 2012 and 2013 World Grand Prix, the 2007 and 2011 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Brazil survived a 2-0 deficit against Turkey on Saturday to keep their winning record at the 2014 World Championships alive. The last time Brazil lost two sets in a single World Championship match, they lost the next match. In 2010 they beat Japan 3-2 after a 2-0 deficit before losing to Russia in the Final. Brazil have lost only two of their last 27 matches at World Championships. Both were finals against Russia (in 2006, 2010). Serbia have won two of their other three world championship matches against teams representing South America. They beat Peru in 2006 and 2010. Serbia have won their first four matches at the World Championship for the third consecutive time. In 2006 they won the first seven, in 2010 the first four. After beating Canada 3-1 on Saturday, Serbia have won 73% of their matches in World Championship history (incl. one WCh as Serbia & Montenegro). Only Russia (88%) and Soviet Union (85%) have a higher winning percentage. Against Canada, Serbia conceded only seven points in the first set, fewest in their World Championship history. They immediately conceded 28 in set two, joint second-most for them in a single set. Only against Japan in 2010 they conceded more (29).Pool C:Netherlands seek momentum going into second round:
The Netherlands are 2-2 overall with six points and cannot finish any lower than fourth round, assuring passage to the second round. Meanwhile, Mexico's chances to move to the second round have been eliminated as they are 0-4 with zero points. Mexico won both matches against Netherlands at the World Championship. In each of their last four World Championships, Netherlands won three of their first five matches. They are looking to equal that achievement with a win against Mexico. Since 1978, Netherlands have lost against only two NORCECA nations at World Championships (however four times each against both Cuba and USA). Four of Netherlands’ last five World Championship matches have ended in straight sets (3 wins, 1 loss). The only exception came on Saturday, with a 3-1 defeat against reigning champions Russia. In 1970, which was Mexico's first ever world championship match, Mexico won 3-0 and in 1978 Mexico won 3-2. Mexico are winless in their last eight world championship matches against European opposition. Mexico have lost their last eight world championship matches against CEV nations, a run which started after they beat West Germany in 1982. Mexico have lost all four matches at the 2014 World Championship and are now on a 14-match losing streak in the competition. Their last victory was against West Germany in 1982. Mexico have won one set in this year’s tournament, the opening set in their opening match against United States. In 2006, they won none, in 2002 two (no participation in 2010). Against Kazakhstan on Saturday, Mexico managed to collect only 49 points, their lowest total in the 2014 World Championship.Kazakhstan and Thailand take the court to settle last Pool C advancement:
Kazakhstan and Thailand are 1-3 overall in 2014 with three points going into the final first round match. The winner will move on to the second round. The only world championship meeting between these teams came in 2010. Thailand beat Kazakhstan 3-1. Both teams met twice at the World Grand Prix. In 2008 Kazakhstan won 3-2 and in 2011, Thailand won 3-0. Thailand have met fellow AVC countries in four other world championship matches, winning one of these three matches (3-1 against Australia in 2002). This winner of this match will qualify for the second round. Kazakhstan snapped a nine-match losing streak at World Championships by beating Mexico 3-0 on Saturday. Their only other win in 14 total matches in the tournament came in 2006, 3-0 against Cameroon. Kazakhstan’s last six World Championship matches have ended in straight sets (1 win, 5 losses). Only three of their first eight were decided after three sets. Thailand can win two of their first five matches in a single World Championship. This would equal their best start ever, set in 2010. Thailand are one shy of losing 50 sets at World Championships. They can become the 28th country with 50+ sets lost. Thailand can reach the second group stage in back-to-back World Championships.United States and Russia form intriguing first-round match for top seed:
Russia and United States are in a virtual tie for first place in Pool C as both teams are 4-0 with the maximum 12 points. The winner will enter the second round as the top seed from Pool C, while the loser will be second seed. This will be the 10th meeting between United States and Russia. The Americans won three of the previous nine meetings of which two came in five sets. Russia have won their last two meetings with team USA. In 2006 they won 3-0 and in 2010 they won 3-1 and can win three in a row for the first time against them at the world championship. More recently both teams met twice at this year's World Grand Prix. Russia won the first (3-1) and United States the second meeting (3-1). United States can win their first five matches four the third time in the last four World Championships. Only in 2006, when they won four of the first five, they failed to do so. United States have won their last three matches in straight sets. They can book four straight set wins in a row at World Championships for the first time since 2002. In USA’s last five matches against CEV nations, results have alternated (win-loss-win-loss-win). They can book back-to-back wins for the first time since claiming five straight victories in 2006-10. Russia have won their last 17 matches at World Championships. This is the longest streak for Russia as a separate nation. As part of Soviet Union, they set the record streak of 29 straight victories (1952-62). On Saturday against Netherlands, Russia conceded a set for the first time at this World Championship. They can beat their lowest number of sets lost in a first round during this century (3 in 2010) by losing fewer than two against USA. Russia (including URS) have lost only one of 11 first round/first group stage matches against NORCECA nations at World Championships. This loss came against United States in 2002 (3-2).Pool D:Azerbaijan looking for three points against Cuba:
Azerbaijan, with a 2-2 record and four points, are currently in a fourth-place tie with Puerto Rico. However, Azerbaijan holds a better record over Puerto Rico, which could be significant in advancing to the second round. Meanwhile, Cuba is 0-4 without a point in Pool D. Azerbaijan and Cuba have met once before at the World Championship. Cuba won 3-0 in 1994. That defeat was the only time Azerbaijan lost against a NORCECA side at the World Championship (5 wins, 1 loss). They also met at the World Grand Prix. In 2006 these teams played each other twice with Cuba winning both of them (3-2 and 3-0). Azerbaijan’s results at the 2014 World Championships have alternated: win-loss-win-loss. According to this rhythm, they should beat Cuba Both Azeri wins have come in matches that went the distance, while the two losses were registered in straight sets. Five of Azerbaijan’s six victories at World Championships during this century have come against NORCECA nations. Cuba took the loss in their last six World Championship matches. This run of six straight defeats equals Cuba’s longest ever losing streak in the competition, set in the Final Round in 1970. Another loss would indicate an outright negative national record. Cuba have lost their last five World Championship matches in straight sets. Prior to this year’s tournament, they never played more than two matches in a row without winning a set. Cuba are the only side in the 2014 World Championship without a set won.China versus Japan to determine top seed out of Pool D:
China leads Pool D with a 4-0 record and the maximum 12 points, the only team to not drop a set in the tournament. Japan is one step behind holding a 3-1 record and 10 points. Both teams have secured spots into the second round. Japan and China have met a total of seven times at the World Championship. Japan won three times and China four times. China have opened their World Championship campaign with four victories. They have not achieved this since 2002. Now they can win the first five for the first time since 1990, when they started with six victories China can win five World Championship matches in a row for the first time since that same six-match streak in 1990. China can win five consecutive World Championship matches in straight sets for the first time since, again, that same six-match streak in 1990. China are the only nation at this World Championship without a set conceded. China have won four of their last five world championship matches against Japan. Both teams clashed three times at the 2014 World Grand Prix with Japan winning the last two. They also met at the 2012 Olympic Games quarterfinal with Japan beating China 3-2. Japan are on a three-match winning streak. They can make it four in a row for the first time since winning their first five matches in the 2010 competition. Japan have won their last match against a fellow AVC nation (3-0 v KOR in 2010) and have a chance to book back-to-back wins for the first time since 1990-94. Japan have won the second-most matches (85) and sets (276) of all nations in the history of the tournament.Belgium controls own path to second round:
Belgium is 2-2 overall with six points, two points more than Azerbaijan (2-2) and Puerto Rico (1-3) and in control of their own destiny. These teams will meet for the first time at the World Championship. Belgium and Puerto Rico once met at a major tournament. On 10 August 2014, Belgium beat Puerto Rico 3-0 at the World Grand Prix. Puerto Rico are winless in their match-ups with European teams (14 matches) and took only three sets, including two in their last meeting (against Azerbaijan in the third matchround this year). Belgium have won two matches at this World Championship. In their previous two appearances, they totaled four (1956) and one (1978). Belgium can win back-to-back World Championship matches for the first time since beating Israel, West Germany, Luxemburg and Austria in consecutive matches in 1956. Charlotte Leys has hit nine aces in this tournament. Only Croatia’s Mia Jerkov (10) more. Puerto Rico have one win after four matches. They will aim for two wins for the first time since 2006. Puerto Rico have won a total of five sets in their last three matches. In their 13 encounters prior to these three matches, they won a total of six.