BRAZIL, Korea and Russia sent out stern warnings to their title rivals in an action-packed opening day of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship 2019 in Bahrain.
Brazil outplayed title holders Poland 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-18, 25-19) in an exciting Pool D clash that lasted close to two hours.
The Brazilians had a balanced attack in their win, with five players scoring 10 points or more. Victor Aleksander Cardoso finished with 14 to lead the way, while Edson Junio Souza Da Paixao had 12 and Lucas Augusto Figueiredo 11. Angellus Costa Da Silva and Guilherme Voss Messias Dos Santos each scored 10 points. Poland’s Bartosz Firszt led his team in the loss with 16 points.
Brazil coach Giovane Gavio said after their triumph: “For the first match, we always tend to be a little bit nervous but we played very well in serve. I think we put pressure on them with this, and also on defence. We knew how to wait for the best moment to close out and win the points. We played well today against Poland, which is one of the most important teams in the world.”
Korea had a hard-fought 3-1 (27-25, 17-25, 25-22, 27-25) win over world number one-ranked Cuba to make their presence felt early on in the competition.
Korea captain Donghyeok Im was in top form, scoring 21 points to lead the victors. Jihan Kim added 13 in the win. After the match, Donghyeok commented: “They (Cuba) are much taller than us, but I see they have their own weaknesses. We also have our own but we don’t think about those. We focused on their weaknesses.”
Russia defeated the Czech Republic in what was a re-match of the final of the European Championship final from last year. The two teams split the first two sets but then Russia made their adjustments and managed to close out the match 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-21, 25-13).
Russia’s Maksim Sapozhhkov led the winners with 24 points while Marek Sotola paced his team with 22 points in the loss.
With the victory, Russia head coach Nozdrin Andrey said: “It is very important to win the first match in any tournament, especially in the world championship. We were very nervous, but we overcame our emotion today.
“The reception for our team was very good, especially in the last sets. The main thing is that we win and the first match is out of the way and now we start our preparations for our next match.”
Meanwhile, Iran had a dominant straight sets (25-13, 25-19, 25-19) victory over Tunisia in Pool ‘C’.