On the 14th competition day, the World Championship winner will be crowned today
Milan, Italy, October 12, 2014 - A bit of history will be at stake on Sunday in Milan as No. 2 United States meet No. 5 China for the gold medal of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014.
Despite their legacy of success over the past 30-plus years, the USA have never won the World Championship title - or any of the three major women's international titles including the Olympic Games and FIVB World Cup. The Americans will try to erase that bit of history while also preventing China from winning their third World Championship to go with their consecutive titles in 1982 and 1986. China have reached the gold-medal match for a record fifth time.
Prior Sunday's gold-medal match scheduled for 20:00, Brazil and Italy will take the court to settle the bronze medal at 17:30.
The USA-China match will pair 1984 Olympic Games starts Karch Kiraly of the USA and Lang Ping of China as head coaches of their respective countries on opposite benches. Kiraly won two Olympic Games gold medals for indoor volleyball and one for beach volleyball, while China's Lang Ping has her own stack of medals as player. She led China to a 3-0 victory over USA in the 1984 Olympic Games gold-medal match, the only other time the two countries have met in Final 1-2 match of a major international tournament.
"I think the biggest thing is we have to do is exactly what we have been doing the last two years - no more and no less," Kiraly said about preparing his team for the title match. "Some times other programs get to the finals and they feel like they have to up it another notch and do something better and more. Usually when you try for more than what you have already been doing, you get less. All we are about is doing exactly what we do in the gym every day, exactly what we did against Brazil by putting together good contact after good contact. We can't guarantee the outcome, but we can maximize our chances."
Medal Round Match Schedule
Brazil (11-1) vs. Italy (10-2), 17:30
United States (10-2) vs. China (10-2), 20:00
Gold-Medal Match: USA versus China
USA, 10-2 overall in this World Championship that included eight consecutive wins to start the campaign, advanced to the title match after a surprisingly easy 3-0 victory (25-18, 29-27, 25-20) over No. 1 and two-time defending Olympic Games Champion Brazil in Saturday's semifinal. USA ended their six-match losing streak to Brazil in FIVB and Olympic competition.
“We have to refocus,” said USA captain Christa Dietzen during the semifinal post-match press conference regarding the gold-medal final. “We are very happy with the win, but there is more business to handle.”
China, also 10-2 in the tournament after starting with an 8-0 as did the Americans, move into the final after defeating host Italy 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 30-28) against the partisan sellout crowd of 12,600 fans. China are now 5-1 in semifinal matches and will play in their fifth gold-medal World Championship match. They won the first four semifinals in straight sets before losing to Italy in 2002.
“We just think about this game,” China captain Hui Ruoqi said after the semifinal victory. “I think we can enjoy the gold-medal match. We are all winners so we will just enjoy the game.”
China were on brink of being ousted from the World Championship in the third round as they lost to Brazil 3-0 on October 8 and lost the first two sets against Dominican Republic on October 9 before coming back to win in five sets.
The USA's top finishes have been silver medals in 1967 and 2002. This will be the second time they have reached the gold-medal match since going away from the round-robin format.
Either the USA or China will become the second team to win the title with two losses (Italy in 2002).
This will be 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 last 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).
United States have won two silver and two bronze medals at the World Championships and can become the third nation to complete the medal set following Russia/Soviet Union and Japan. If United States claim silver, they will extend the record of most World Championship medals won without winning gold.
China can become world champion for the third time following their world titles in 1982 (beating Peru in the final) and 1986 (beating Cuba). Only Russia/Soviet Union have more than three world titles (7). Japan and Cuba have won the world championship three times.
One streak will continue - the winner of the FIVB World Grand Prix will not won the FIVB World Championship. Brazil won the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix in August.
Bronze-Medal Match: Brazil versus Italy
Brazil and Italy need to regroup and refocus on Sunday after suffering semifinal losses on Saturday. Brazil lost to the USA 3-0 (25-18, 29-27, 25-20), while Italy could not stop China in a 3-1 loss (25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 30-28).
"It won't be easy today, I think the match for the third place is even harder than playing a final," Brazil's Sheilla said. "But we will find the power, because I know it's important to Brazil, to me and my family"
Italy have now lost two of their three semifinal matches (win in 2002 and lost in 2006). However, the Italians are still guaranteed a top-four finish for the third time. They were fifth in 2010.
Italy were attempting to become the first hosts to win their semifinal match since Brazil won their semifinal at home in 1994. The only two times the host nation won the gold was in 1952 (URS/RUS) and in 1967 (JPN).
This will be the third world championship meeting between Brazil and Italy. Brazil won both previous meetings 3-0 (Last 16 in 1990 and 1st round in 2010). These countries have met twice at the Olympic Games, with Brazil winning both matches (3-2 in 2004 and 3-0 in 2008). They met once at the 2014 World Grand Prix, with Brazil winning 3-0. The last time Italy defeated Brazil in a major tournament was at the 2011 world Cup (3-0).
Brazil have lost their only previous World Championship bronze-medal match 3-1 against Russia in 1998. They will finish in the top four for the fifth time in the last six editions. They only finished seventh in 2002. Brazil can claim their fourth medal at the world championship after taking three silver medals (1994, 2006 and 2010).
The last time Brazil lost back-to-back world championship matches was in 2002, when they lost their quarterfinal match against China followed by a defeat against Korea in the qualification 5-8 match.
Italy's only medal at the world championship is a gold medal won in 2002. They will finish in the top four for the third time after 2002 (gold) and 2006 (fourth). They were ranked fifth in 2010.