Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2016 – Two match days have gone by at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament, but the anticipation is high for the teams that will break away from the tight race to obtain the four available tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
After two days of competition, Iran landed on top spot with two victories after their straight-set win over Australia and their come-from-behind victory over Canada. The Iranians have earned five points from their two matches.
Iran have showcased the strength of their wing spikers Amir Ghafour and Milad Ebadipour, and certainly a good sign as they progress in the competition.
Poland have the same win-record as Iran but their two five-set finishes took away two points that would put them on top of the table. However, their performances thus far have proven that they can rise from difficult situations and end up still standing.
France are in third place at the moment after they had a slipup against their European rivals Poland on Sunday. The Frenchmen have shown dexterity in their serve and block, but their concentration in crucial moments is yet to be tested further.
Three other teams – China, Japan and Australia – share the same win-loss cards after splitting their victories and losses in the first two days.
China seemed like the dark horse of the competition as they have flaunted some very tight defence at the net against France and hosts Japan. China have shown a promising start, especially not coming in as a top favourite among the Asian sides.
After making an opening day win over Venezuela, Japan slid the following day against their East Asian rivals China. Japan are very much capable of getting back, as they have done in their previous competitions. With a cast of young and talented hitters, Japan will surely bounce back.
Australia, on the other hand, lost their opening match, as their star Thomas Edgar saw limited playing time. Edgar’s presence as a starter instantly changed the outcome of their second match against Venezuela, as the opposite spiker spearheaded the Australian offence.
Meanwhile, Canada and Venezuela have five more matches to record their first victory.
Canada are coming off two difficult five-set matches against Poland and Iran. On a more encouraging note, their main hitter Gavin Schmitt has been delivering the points for his team, considering the opposite hitter was sidelined because of an injury at the NORCECA Championships. Schmitt is currently the top scorer of the tournament with a total of 44 points in two matches.
Venezuela suffered two losses but have shown that they are highly capable of winning sets against strong teams. Venezuela continue to work on their focus and their rhythm and cannot be counted out of the competition, especially when they have a strong spiker like Kervin Martin Pinerua, who recorded big numbers in both of their matches.
“We had two training sessions today,” Venezuela coach Vincenzo Nacci. “We had one session at the gym to work on our physical strength and the other one in the court for some ball work.”
The Venezuelans have intensely prepared for their opponents China at the second match on Day 3 at 3:55 GMT.
“China are a very physical team,” Nacci added. “So we prepared for our side-outs and their high blocks.”