Italy and Brazil into semis, USA and China win to stay alive


China celebrated after coming back from two-set deficit to defeat Dominican Republic and stay alive for a semifinal spot

Milan, Italy October 9, 2014 – China and United States, facing must win situations a day after losing in their opening matches of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 third phase, came through with big wins on Thursday in Milan to remain alive for the semifinals. Meanwhile, Brazil and Italy earned advancement into the semifinals without even stepping on the court Thursday.

China lost the first two sets and trailed late in the third before reversing the momentum in a 22-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12 victory over Dominican Republic in Pool H. This was the 22nd time China were 2-0 down in a World Championship match, but the first time they turned it into a 3-2 victory. China finished Pool H with two points, and now must await Friday’s match between Brazil and Dominican Republic. Brazil, with three points from Wednesday, have advanced to the semifinals. Dominican Republic can advance over China should it win against Brazil.

In the second match on Thursday, the USA defeated Russia 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 in Pool G. Russia tried to comeback, which included a 15-1 scoring run in the third set after trailing 13-5 after being down two sets. However, the USA made their own comeback in the fourth set after trailing 7-3 early to close out the match. The USA will advance to the semifinals unless Russia wins their match against Italy 3-0 or 3-1.

The third phase has two pools of three teams playing a round robin over three days. The top two teams in each pool advance to the crossover semifinals on Saturday, followed by the medal matches on Sunday.

On Friday, Pool H concludes with Brazil facing Dominican Republic at 17:30, followed by Italy hosting Russia at 20:00 in Pool G. China will advance to the semifinals with a Brazil victory over Dominican Republic. The USA will advance automatically with an Italy win over Russia, otherwise it will come down to tiebreakers as all three teams will be 3-0 in Pool G.

Pool G
October 8: Italy def. USA 25-23, 25-22, 25-20
October 9: USA def. Russia 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23
October 10: Italy versus Russia, 20:00

Pool H
October 8: Brazil def. China 25-19, 25-16, 25-15
October 9: China def. Dominican Republic 22-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12
October 10: Brazil versus Dominican Republic, 17:30

USA stop reigning World Champion Russia – United States, which have never won the World Championship, defeated two-time defending World Champions Russia 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23) for the second time at this World Championship. The Americans won the first meeting 3-1 to cap Pool C in the first round.

Team USA, now 9-2 overall in the tournament were led by Kimberly Hill’s 18 points, while Kelly Murphy and Foluke Akinradewo added 15 and 13 points respectively. Russia’s Tatiana Kosheleva was the match top scorer with 25 points and her teammates Nataliya Goncharova and Ekaterina Gamova added 17 and 14 points. Russia’s net defense produced a 17-7 block advantage, while the USA serve held a 5-1 ace margin.

“Russia are a great team and I respect their great history,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “I am proud of what my team was able to produce tonight, recovering from the disappointing loss against Italy.”

Team USA converted 41.8 percent of their attacks into points with a .242 hitting efficiency. Russia was better even in defeat at 44.4 percent on attacks with a .323 hitting efficiency. However, USA won the transition game with a 75-59 dig advantage.

Russia’s chances of finishing in the top four for the 14th time now hinges on defeating Italy 3-0 or 3-1 on Friday. If the USA advances to the semifinals, it will be for the second consecutive World Championship.

USA and Russia have now met 11 times at the World Championship with the Europeans leading the head-to-head series 6-5. USA broke the 250 sets won mark during the match and have now won 252 in World Championship history, but also became just the third nation to have at least 200 set losses at the World Championship. Russia have lost four of their last six World Championship matches for only the second time after 1982. Russia have taken at least one set in their last 43 World Championship matches. 

China amazing comeback against Dominican Republic keep hope alive – China, needing a victory to have hopes of reaching the semifinals, came from two sets down to score a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12) victory over the Dominican Republic in Pool H. To claim their place in the top four, China will be looking for Brazil to defeat the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Best scorer of the match was Dominican Republic’s Bethania De la Cruz with 39 points, and now has a tournament-leading 233 points over 10 matches. Ting Zhu contributed 25 kills for China. The Dominican Republic, which still has yet to defeat an Asian opponent at the World Championships in seven previous attempts, had 16 block points while China had 10.

“It was very tough for us,” China coach Lang Ping said. “The Dominican Republic played very well as they did during the whole tournament. At the beginning we couldn’t block them but eventually we found a way to stop them.”

China converted 41.7 percent of their attacks in the match, but had a 48.3 percent conversion on attacks in the final two sets. In contrast, Dominican Republic’s hitting percent was 44.8 percent for the match. China benefitted from 23 opponent errors in the match and limited their own to 16 over the five sets. 

Dominican Republic led 16-15 at the second technical timeout of the third set and could not complete the sweep. In the fifth set, Dominican Republic led 12-11 but China rolled off the final four points of the set to complete the come-from-behind victory.

China are unbeaten in their World Championship meetings with the Dominican Republic. China beat the Dominicans twice in straight sets (2006 and 2010) and twice in five sets (2014) , including today. China set a team record of nine wins in a single edition of the world championship. They had eight wins in 1974, 1982 and 1986, the last two being years in which they won the World Championship.

Of all six teams in the third round, Dominican Republic have played the most sets in the first and second round combined 41 sets in total. Five more were added today to a total of 46. No other team of the top six has played more than 33 sets. Today's was the Dominican Republic's seventh tiebreak in 10 matches at these World Championships.


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