One down, six to go! World Olympic Qualifier in Japan began on Saturday 14, when eight teams run on court to compete for the Olympic berth.
While favourites haven’t disappointed their fans, the day belongs to Thailand to surprisingly defeated Dominican Republic in fourth sets.
Korea vs Italy
Result: 1 – 3 (17-25, 20-25, 27-25, 18-25) – watch full match here
The opening match belonged to Korea and Italy, with the latter considered one of the heavy favourites to win the Olympic berth, if not the entire competition. Despite absence of Valentina Diouf from the WOQT squad, coach Marco Bonitta is confident about the team’s fate.
Diouf was cut out form the roster shortly before the tournament.
“We have to make such difficult decisions all the time, and I have had to make these decisions before”, Bonitta told at the press conference ahead of WOQT, adding that his focus goes entirely to the players on the roster. The coach is confident that Italy will claim one of the Olympic tickets in Japan.
“We’ve already got our first triumph in bringing together a squad with a spread of 15 years – 20 if you count the 37 years of Piccinini and the 17 of Egonu”, coach told La Gazetta dello Sport referring to experienced Piccinini who led her team Pomi Casalmaggiore to the Champions League title a few weeks ago and rising Italian star Paola Egonu, who showed her skills to the world during European Olympic Qualifier in Ankara.
Korea’s key player and captain Kim Yeon-Koung hopes that the team will raise to its full potential in the upcoming games.
Full WOQT preview can be found here.
Thailand vs Dominican Republic
Result: 3 – 1 (26-24, 26-28, 25-16, 25-20) – watch full match here
After a tough fight in the first two sets, Thailand raised to the occasion, taking control over the game and secured all points, defeating Dominican Republic in four sets. At the post-match press conference Thai coach Radchatagriengkai said the game was a great lesson for Thailand who is up to fight for their first ever appearance at the Olympic Games. The victory brought the team a lot of confidence which can give them wings to carry on the momentum in the following matches. Thai captain Onuma Sittirak is not over the moon about the win and focuses on the team’s performance.
Whether it was a one off match or Thai will be a dark horse of the tournament, we will find out in the following days!
WOQT Results & Predictions
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R – FIVB Ranking
NO – Next Opponent
NGP – Next Game Prediction
OFRP – Our Final Result Prediction
Netherlands vs Kazakhstan
Result: 3-1 (25-12, 21-25, 25-14, 25-8) – watch full match here
While Giovanni Guidetti described Asian style of volleyball to possibly cause biggest trouble for his team, in the opening match for the Dutch and the Kazakhs it was quite the opposite. Vaycheslav Shapran, coach of Kazakhstan, explained it at the post match press conference:
Dutch captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues was satisfied with the recovery her team made after loss in the second set. Her teammate, opposite Lonneke Sloetjes opened WOQT campaign as the Best Scorer of the day with 30 points.
Full WOQT schedule can be found here.
Japan vs Peru
Result: 3-0 (25-23, 25-10, 25-14) – watch full match here
The hosting team was the only one to open the WOQT with straight sets victory. Miyu Nagaoka led Japan, scoring 20 points, satisfying the home crowd in Japan’s first match of the competition. Peru couldn’t find the way to respond to Japan play, but coach Mauro Marasciulo expected WOQT to be tough for his team. He explained at the press conference ahead of the tournament that his team wasn’t in its best form in the past few years.
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