Golden moment closes World Championship


USA took the top podium spot on their captain Christa Dietzen's birthday, while China earned silver and Brazil bronze

Milan, Italy, October 12, 2014 – The USA women celebrated their captain Christa Dietzen’s 28th birthday in grand style by pulling off a remarkable first in capturing the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 gold medal – their first title among the triple crown events of World Championship, World Cup and Olympic Games – after defeating China 3-1 (27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24) Sunday in Milan.

The No. 2 USA, which have been among the top teams in the world for about 35 years, finally got the monkey off their back by winning the title. They finished the World Championship with an 11-2 record and prevented the Chinese from winning their third World Championship. China, ranked No. 5 in the world, ended the tournament with the silver medal and a 10-3 record.

Kimberly Hill, the most valuable player of the tournament, led the USA with 20 points on 19 kills on 31 swings including World Championship winning kill. Dietzen added 15 points with a match-high seven blocks to go with eight kills. Foluke Akinradewo chipped in 14 points, followed by Kelly Murphy with 13.

"It's the first time for the USA and we made it,” Dietzen said. “We represented present and future volleyball programs, but most importantly we did it together."

China was paced by Chunlei Zeng’s 20 points. Ting Zhu and Ruoqi Hui added 15 points apiece.

Based on the results of the World Championship results, USA will likely move into the No. 1 world ranking when the new official standings come out later this week.

In the bronze medal match, Brazil ended the tournament with a 3-2 victory (25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-7) over Italy. Brazil claimed their fourth medal at the World Championship after taking three silver medals (1994, 2006 and 2010).

FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 Dream Team
Best Outside Spiker: Ting Zhu (China)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Kimberly Hill (USA)
Best Middle Blocker: Thaisa (Brazil)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Junjing Yang (China)
Best Libero: Monica DeGennaro (Italy)
Best Setter: Alisha Glass (USA)
Best Opposite: Sheilla (Brazil)
Most Valuable Player: Kimberly Hill (USA)

World Championship Final Standings
Gold – United States
Silver – China
Bronze – Brazil
4th – Italy
5T – Russia and Dominican Republic
7T - Japan and Serbia
9T - Germany and Turkey
11T – Belgium and Bulgaria
13T - Croatia and Netherlands
15T - Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan
17T. Argentina, Canada, Thailand and Puerto Rico
21T Tunisia, Cameroon, Mexico and Cuba

World Championship Gold-Medal Match History
1978 CUB def. PER 3-0 (15-01, 15-05, 15-11) at Leningrad
1986 CHN def. CUB 3-1 (15-06, 15-07, 10-15, 15-09) at Prague 
1990 URS def. CHN 3-1 (15-13, 06-15, 15-09, 16-14) at Beijing
1994 CUB def. BRA 3-0 (15-02, 15-10, 15-05) at Sao Paulo
1998 CUB def. CHN 3-0 (15-04, 16-14, 15-12) at Osaka
2002 ITA def. USA 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 25-16, 22-25, 15-11) at Berlin
2006 RUS def. BRA 3-2 (15-25, 25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 15-13) at Osaka
2010 RUS def. BRA 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 15-11) at Tokyo
2014 USA def. CHN 3-1 (27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24) at Milan

Gold-Medal Match

USA make history with birthday present to captain - The USA won the first two sets 27-25 and 25-20, but China came back strong to extend the match with a 25-16 victory in third set. The title match looked poised to go the fifth set for the fourth time in all four gold-medal matches, but the Americans overcame a 22-19 deficit by scoring the final six of eight points for a 26-24 victory.

"We came here to make history and we made it," Kiraly said. "It was a tough battle. I would like to congratulate Lang Ping and her team. They played a marvelous tournament. After we got a 2-0 lead we knew China would never give up. It was a battle to the end and they have some great young players, as do we. I hope that we will be playing against each other in the future. It is just good for the sport to have teams with such history performing at a high level."

The USA out-blocked China 14-9 for the match and held a 6-5 margin in aces. The Americans converted 40 percent of their attacks with a .275 hitting efficiency. China converted 43 percent of their attacks into points with a .273 hitting efficiency.

It's not only the USA team that have written history today. There's also a very personal distinction for head coach Karch Kiraly. This is his second gold medal in the World Championships. He already holds one as a player for the USA men’s team when they beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the 1986 final in Paris. He becomes the fourth person in history to achieve this "double" after the USSR's Aleksei Yakushev and Givi Akhvlediani in the 1950s and 1960s and China's Zhang Rongfang in the 1980s. And only Yakyshev before Kiraly had made the crossover from winning gold with a men's team to coaching a women's team to gold.

China was playing in their fifth World Championship gold-medal match. 

USA reached the title match by sweeping then-undefeated Brazil in the semifinals. China were on the brink of not even advancing to the semifinals after losing to Brazil in straight sets and trailing Dominican Republic 2-0 in the third round. China rallied to defeat Dominican Republic, then handled host 3-1 in the semifinals.

Both teams started the tournament with 8-0 records, but lost in the second round finale and in the first match of the third phase. They found life in the second match of the third round and parlayed that into gold-medal match appearances.

USA are the second team to win the title with two losses (Italy in 2002).

United States have also won two silver and two bronze medals at the World Championships and can became the third nation to complete the medal set following Russia/Soviet Union and Japan.

The coaches for each team were part of gold-medal winning teams at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. USA coach Karch Kiraly led the Americans to the gold medal, while China’s coach Lang Ping starred for the Chinese in their win over USA in the women’s Olympic final that year.

This was the seventh meeting between China and United States at the World Championships. United States won the first three meetings (1956, 1978 and 1982) and China won the previous three meetings (1986, 1990 and 2006). United States and China also met in each of the last five Olympic Games, with USA winning the last two matches (2008 and 2012).

Bronze-Medal Match

Brazil overcome frenzied comeback by Italy to claim bronze – Brazil started strong against Italy, but needed to re-start their offense in the fifth set in a 3-2 win (25-15, 25-13, 22-25, 22-25, 15-7) to claim the bronze medal.

Brazil had a balanced scoring offense of five starters in double-digit scoring. Sheilla notching 21 points and Jaque totaling 15 points. Italy was led by Valentina Diouf’s match-high 31 points despite not starting the contest. Antonella Del Core added 11 points for the home team.

Brazil attacked at a 48.2 percent success rate with a .370 hitting efficiency. Brazil out-blocked the Italians 11-6 and benefited from 28 Italy errors in the match. Italy, which held a 7-5 edge in aces, was limited to a 38.7 attack percent with a .180 hitting efficiency that included 25 attack faults.

Brazil yielded a total of 28 points through the first two sets, but the Italian crowd gave their home team a wake-up call. Italy responded by winning the next two sets by scores of 25-22. Brazil responded by taking an 8-4 lead at the side switch of the tiebreaker and went on to win 15-7.

“I think we have two matches this evening,” Brazil coach Ze Roberto said. “The first two sets, followed by the third and fourth sets and the tiebreaker. We played really good the first two with good defense, block and counter-attacks. After this we did some not good choices in side out. Italy started to adjust the defense on the block. In the third, only Diouf played - three times more than the other Italian players. In the fourth set LoBianco started to give the ball to other players then it became difficult for us to adjust the block and defense. And our serve was not so good in the third fourth. In the tiebreaker, we started to serve more hard. Our block adjusted a little bit. We never give up, and we did it.”

The match represented both team’s second five-set contest in this World Championship and the 18th overall of the tournament (Match #101). Earlier in the tournament Italy lost to Dominican Republic in five sets to end the first round in Pool A, while Brazil escaped being upset by Turkey in the first round.

Brazil had lost their only previous World Championship bronze medal match 3-1 against Russia in 1998. The Brazilians have finished in the top four for the fifth time in the last six editions, finishing the third time in a row on the podium.

It was the second time Italy were in a bronze medal match at the World Championship. They lost 3-0 against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. Italy have finished in the top four for the third time after 2002 (gold), 2006 (fourth) and 2014 (fourth).


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