Alas, we’re down to the last two who survived a somewhat battle royale-like international volleyball competition. It has been a very good world cup and let’s hope the Finals tomorrow will be a blast.
But before we break down on USA and China, let’s have a run down on the performance of the other teams. Well, actually, It has been a mixed performance for almost all teams. There were surprising teams, emerging teams, dominating teams, bipolar teams and inconsistent teams but the games were really exciting this year. Dominican Republic was the team who shocked almost everyone after beating and challenging a lot of strong teams. Even the likes of Azerbaijan and Croatia had their share of upsets and surprising wins as well (although no one duplicated Chinese Taipei’s run in 2006 Haha). If there were teams who really did well, there were also teams who kind of disappointed a lot of fans (Sorry Japan, Russia, Serbia, Thailand and Turkey). Thailand sent their Team B in this tournament, which was kind of disappointing and somewhat insulting to FIVB since they labeled this one as the organization’s most prestigious tournaments. I don’t know why Thailand prioritized Asian Games more, but I was disappointed cause they could’ve won games against strong teams. Japan, Serbia, Turkey and Russia were the inconsistent ones. It was disappointing cause they showed how they were able to match up with the strong teams…but also with the weaker teams. They could’ve made it to the next round if not for their inconsistencies. Russia was the most disappointing because they had Gamova, Kosheleva and Goncharova in one team and they were the defending champions but faulty substitutions and rotations by the coach cost them. Brazil and Italy dominated the whole tournament but failed to win the semis game. Well, these things happen so it wasn’t at all disappointing but it was frustrating since they really had hardcore line-ups and they were really one game away from making it to the Finals. And to be fair to China and USA, both teams did well in the Final Four. China and USA both had roller coaster seasons, although from the beginning, you knew they were somehow gonna win big games (but to be honest, I never really expected a USA vs China Finals Haha)
USA has always been known as an all around team. Although they commit a lot of errors, their floor and net defense have been the reasons why they won the last few games. The low-fast sets of Alisha Glass have also been big help to the team’s unpredictable offense. Of course, there’s also an added bonus if you have powerful hitters and servers such as Kim Hill, Jordan Larson, Kelly Murphy, Foluke Akinradewo and Christa Harmotto. Aside from these starters, you also have the likes of Nicole Fawcett, Rachel Adams and Kelsey Robinson. The offense of USA is actually as deep as their net and floor defense. Kayla Banwarth has really improved a lot as the team’s libero. She has been receiving and digging well. Just yesterday, she made Brazil’s attacks look like nothing. Christa Harmotto’s presence has also been a big factor for USA especially with her blocking (I mean, man, the girl once scored 12 blocks in one game). A USA championship will really be a big morale booster for the ones in the roster. There were doubts for the ones in the current line-up. Now is the right time to prove them wrong and to make a run for the red, white and blue nation.
Player to watch out: Kim Hill is also emerging as one of USA’s main scorers. She improved her hitting by being more smart compared to the past years. If you would look at the past games, her scores are usually unchecked or undefended by the opponents.
If USA will continue their awesome defense and with unpredictable offense, they might just take this easily. But if they will commit a lot of errors, they will be in a lot of danger against a very young and eager China team.
China has been getting a lot of labels lately. Names like “team of the future”, “new Russia”, “emerging powerhouse” and I agree with all of them. Everyone knew this team had a lot of potential. When you look at their first six, you can easily say that five years from now, they could be dominating all tournaments. Height will be their advantage in the coming years especially since their first six is made up of 6’6, 6’7 and 6’5 players. The only problem with their game is their reception and digging. However, their blocking, serving and hitting are really to watch out for especially if you are into power and precision. The middle blockers Yuan Xinyue and Junjing Yang have lethal running attacks. The wingers Zhu Ting, Hui Ruoqi and Zeng Chunlei have also been explosive for China. Five years from now, this team’s gonna get even deadlier especially with the young roster they have. Imagine, the top scorers in their Final Four game against Italy are just 17 and 18 (Yuan Xinyue and Zhu Ting). China’s got a bright future but tomorrow will be the first step to their impending world dominance in world volleyball.
Player to watch out: Zhu Ting has been leading the Chinese since Day 1. Her floor defense has improved a lot (in fact, she’s #1 in receiving) and her backrow attacks are now sharper.
In tomorrow’s Finals, they have nothing to lose and they have everything to gain. If they will have good floor defense tomorrow aside from their splendid blocking and hitting, they might just win it. Inexperience will either make or break them.
I just hope tomorrow’s Finals game will be a good one. I won’t mind a three set game as long as it’s exciting (as exciting as the USA vs Brazil semis) and I’d be happy if both teams will push it to the limit. Hoping there won’t be off games for all players so we can all witness a quality Finals match.
Just a reminder, the game is at 8:00 PM in Italy, 2:00 AM in Manila, 11:00 AM in LA, 3:00 PM in Sao Paolo, 2:00 PM in New York and 7:00 PM in London.