Throughout 3 days we could see 30 matches, in which 20 teams in 5 pools fight for the Final Six in Sapporo. Now, it’s time for a summary.
Standings after first weekend:
1. Japan (9 points, 3/0)
Team coached by Masayoshi Manabe despite changes in roster is still good in defense. They defeated Turkey, Thailand and Algeria. Important tasks have wing-spikers: Yukiko Ebata, Saori Kimura and Risa Shinnabe. After Olympic Games libero Yuko Sano and setter Yoshie Takeshita had to be replaced. New players on their positions: Kotoki Zayasu (L) and Haruka Miyashita (S) were impressive, but still need experience.
2. China (9 points, 3/0)
Chinese team without some starting players had no difficulties, beating Netherlands, Bulgaria and Cuba. New star is young Ting Zhu (OH), best scorer of Chinese team. Good matches had experienced players: Yimei Wang (OH) and Yunwen Ma (MB). Also some new players were introduced like libero Chen Zhan and Congcong Liu (MB).
3. Italy (9 points, 3/0)
Despite different roster in last years this team overcame Germany, Argentina and Kazakhstan. Important scorers were young Valentina Diouf (OPP) and experienced Carolina Costagrande (OH).
4. Serbia (9 points, 3/0)
Serbian team had no strong opponents first weekend. They smashed Czech Republic, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The Main weapons were Jovana Brakocevic (OPP) and Brankica Mihajlovic (OH), supported by Milena Rasic (MB). Good job did also a setter Maja Ognjenovic.
5. Brazil (8 points, 3/0)
Team won a toughest pool in this weekend in Campinas, stopping USA, Russia and Poland. Impressive were Fernanda Garay (OH) and debutant Gabriela Guimaraes (OH), stunning defender was libero Camila Brait.
6. Turkey (6 points, 2/1)
Team without bigger personal changes is quite ripped. Only coached changed, now main trainer is Massimo Barbolini. They won with Thailand and Algeria, but lost with Japan. Main offensive weapon was Neslihan Darnel (OPP), defensive link was Gizem Karadayi.
7. USA (6 points, 2/1)
Totally rebuilt team after London is still impressive. We could see many impressive players like Alisha Glass (S), Kimberly Hill (OH), Kelly Murphy (OPP), Tamari Miyashiro (L) or Christa Harmotto (MB). Team beat Russia and Poland and lost with Brazil after amazing battle.
8. Bulgaria (6 points, 2/1)
Debutant team, which was a bit underestimated. Important players here are Elitsa Vasilieva and Dobriana Rabadzhieva (both OH). Lora Kitipova is creative setter who surprised few times. Team lost with China, but defeated Netherlands and Cuba.
9. Dominican Republic (6 points, 2/1)
Coached by Marcos Kwiek team plays with the same roster since 2009. Team is so unpredictable because of making errors and constant changes in roster. Important players for team are Bethania De La Cruz and Prisilla Rivera (both OH), amazing defender is Brenda Castillo. Team couldn’t fight with Serbia, but was better than Puerto Rico and Czech Republic.
10. Argentina (4 points, 2/1)
Team with stable roster and new coach Guillermo Orduna made a surprise beating Germany. They also won with Kazakhstan, but lost with Italy. Distinctive player is Emilce Sosa (MB), rest players are unstable, having many ups and downs.
11. Germany (4 points, 1/2)
Ripped team, from many years coached by Giovanni Guidetti disappointed a bit losing with Argentina and Italy and even losing set with Kazakhstan. Girls aren’t in best shape, again strong was Margareta Kozuch (OPP) and Christiane Furst (MB). Unstable was Maren Brinker (OH).
12. Netherlands (3 points, 1/2)
Next team with new players. Good players are Anne Buijs (OH) and Femke Stoltenborg (S). Rest players were underperforming there. Dutch team destroyed Cuba, but lost with Bulgaria and China.
13. Russia (3 points, 1/2)
Team with new coach Yuriy Marichev had a tough weekend. They played 14 sets, winning with Poland and losing with Brazil and USA. Basic scorer is Natalia Obmochaeva (OPP), Tatiana Kosheleva (OPP) supported OPP against Brazil and at the beginning against Poland, but due to damaged finger she couldn’t play. In my opinion Setter Anna Matienko should use more middles Anastasia Shlyakhovaya and Irina Zaryazhko.
14. Czech Republic (3 points, 1/2)
Cocached by Italain, Carlo Parisi team was incosistent. Their best player was Aneta Havlickova (OPP). Brave choice was putting 17-year-old Michaela Mlejnkova (OH). Other players were disappointing. Team won only against weak Puerto Rico, Serbia and Dominicana defated them.
15. Thailand (3 points, 1/2)
Their play was a bit disappointing. Thailand won only with Algeria, Thailand and Japan played better than they. The best was OH Onuma Sittirak.
16. Poland (1 point, 0/3)
Team with new coach, Piotr Makowski had small chances in Brazil to get more points. Girls sometimes played really well game, but sometimes they lost many points by series. Team got a point only against Russia, but tore off sets both from USA and Brazil. Definitely the best player was outside-hitter, converted from opposite Katarzyna Skowrońska-Dolata. Unfortunately Poland had no good opposite who can complement Kasia.
17. Kazakhstan (1 point, 0/3)
Team surprised Germany tearing first set, they also fought with Argentina, but lost in tiebreak and they no chances against Italy. Main scorer was an opposite Tatyana Mudritskaya.
18. Puerto Rico (0 points, 0/3)
Team destroyed by Czech and Domincan Republics stole a set from the best team there, Serbia. Team is too weak in reception and their spikers aren’t powerful enough. Main scorer was an opposite Karina Ocasio, but they definitely miss experienced players: Aurea Cruz (OH), Vilmarie Mojica (S) or Sarai Alvarez (OP).
19. Cuba (0 points, 0/3)
Team spoilt by politics. Again most important players escaped. In team weren’t setters/opposites: Ana Cleger, Lillianny Marcillan, middles: Leanny Simon, Gyselle Silva, Wilma Salas (OH). Team is so inexperienced and committed many school mistakes, many players are below 20 years old.
20. Algeria (0 points, 0/3)
For me giving a chance from FIVB to teams from Africa is unfortunately a misunderstanding. That team was definitely far way behind Thailand, Japan and Turkey. I wonder if that players will get at least one set.
Best players according to stats:
Best Scorer: Ting Zhu (China)
Best Spiker: Michaela Mlejnkova (Czech Republic)
Best Blocker: Milena Rasic (Serbia)
Best Server: Heike Beier (Germany)
Best Digger: Camila Brait (Brazil)
Best Receiver: Carolina Costagrande (Italy)
Best Setter: Femke Stoltenborg (Netherlands)
Best team of the weekend:
Disappointing team of weekend: