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Thrilling openers set the pace in Girls' U18 Worlds

 

USA's Devyn Robinson goes one-on-one with Mexico's Aime Topete in Ismailia, as the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship begins in Egypt.

Ismailia, Egypt, September 5, 2019 - Exciting stuff on the opening day of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship, including a couple of five-setters and a late night cliffhanger by the hosts, provided an inspiring preview of what we can expect over the next nine days as the competition begins to unfold in the cities of Ismailia on the Suez Canal and the capital Cairo.


Egypt's Salma Abdelhady, the tallest player in the tournament at 2.08m, towers above Puerto Rico's Carolina Camacho as the hosts set off on their 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship adventure with a victory in Ismailia.

Hosts Egypt opened their campaign with a forceful 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 30-28, 25-21) win that could well prove a deciding factor in the race for a berth amongst the top 16 of the competition.

Puerto Rico kept a healthy lead well into the final stages of the first set, but Egypt rallied to catch up at 23-23. Still the Caribbean team could have gone a set up had they capitalised on their sole set point. But an ace by Farida Elhenawy, followed by some nifty defending and a crosscourt kill by May Abdelmaguid turned it all around.

Both sides exchanged match points again in the third, Puerto Rico seeing their three cancelled before Ayah Elnady hit the ball from the left off her opponents' block and onto the antenna to convert Egypt's third.

The home side took control in the fourth, though, and sealed a spectacular win, just before the stroke of midnight, that sees them off on the right foot for a place in the knockout stage of the competition.

Earlier in Ismailia, four-time world champions China had shut out rookies Cameroon 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-12), with Liu Meijun on 11 points and Wang Wenhan on 10 the only players scoring into double digits.

Canada return with a bang
Thirty years after their prevous appearance at a youth World Championship, back at the inaugural edition of 1989, Canada returned with a bang, coming back from a set down to beat Korea 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-22) in the opening match of the competition at Ismailia.

Korea pushed in the fourth set in a vain attempt at forcing a tie-break, but with the two sides level at 22-22 Anna Smrek blocked Choi Jeongmin and then stepped up to the service line to deliver back-to-back aces and bring the match home for Canada, who posted a tournament high of 13 aces overall.


Katarina Pantovic gets the ball over the Korea block of Choi Jeongmin and Park Eunseo as she leads Canada to victory over Korea in the opening match at Ismailia of the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

USA proved too powerful for Mexico, putting pressure from the service line and producing 10 aces in combination with a more efficient attack of 42% (33/79) to their southern neighbours' mere 27% (21/77) for a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-16) in the NORCECA derby.

Thriller in Cairo sees Belarus on top
Kseniya Liabiodkina scored 17 points and Darya Sauchuk added six blocks as they led Belarus to a nail-biting 3-2 (19-25, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22, 15-11) win over Thailand for Pool C in Cairo - though Saowapha Soosuk topped the scoring in the game with 19 for the Asian side.

Thailand had the opportunity to go two sets up, failed to convert set points in the second at 23-24 and 24-25, before Belarus came back to tie the game on the second try of their own, fittingly with a Sauchuk block.

The tie-break was a quick and clean affair, with Belarus breaking away after side-switch to reach match point with six to spare at 14-9, before Liabiodkina attacked to wrap it all up.


Double block from Belarus' Darya Vakulka and Darya Burak goes up to try and stop Thailand's Aungkana Pasang on the opening day of the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

Romania completed the day's action in Cairo shutting out Argentina 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-23), with Alexia Carutasu scoring a match high 16 points as the whole side posted a tournament high 15 blocks (seven from Francesca Alupei alone).

Bulgaria, Japan off to great start
Bulgaria just managed to squeeze past past Peru 3-2 (25-23, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 19-17) in an opener at Cairo that could well be highly decisive for the positioning of the teams in the final standings of Pool D.

The Balkan side seemed to be heading for a comfortable close to the game after opening up an 11-7 lead, but Peru reacted with a 4-0 run to level the score and were even first to reach match point with two to spare at 12-14. Bulgaria cancelled both with two kills by Maria Yordanova, who also denied Peru with yet another attack at 14-15, before Aleksandra Georgieva finally sealed the deal with an attack on Bulgaria's third match ball.


Thaisa Mc Leod of Peru pierces the Bulgaria block of Aleksandra Georgieva and Mila Ilieva as the Balkan side open their 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship campaign with the narrowest of wins in Cairo.

Japan followed suit in Cairo, cruising past newcomers to the competition Congo 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25-9). Coach Daichi Saegusa got the opportunity to give plenty of court time to most of his players as the Congo was unable to deal with the Asian side's serving which produced 12 aces in just three sets.

Competition continues Friday with the second day of pool play in Ismailia and Cairo.

Summary Statistics - 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship

Highest Scorer by Day
24 – Farida Elhenawy of Egypt v Puerto Rico (3-1) on September 5

Top Scoring Performances
24 – Farida Elhenawy of Egypt v Puerto Rico (3-1) on September 5
21 – Thaisa Mc Leod of Peru v Bulgaria (2-3) on September 5
20 – Maria Yordanova of Bulgaria v Peru (3-2) on September 5
20 – Sofia Victoria of Puerto Rico v Egypt (1-3) on September 5

Top Individual Blocking Performances
7 – Francesca Alupei of Romania v Argentina (3-0) on September 5
6 – Darya Sauchuk of Belarus v Thailand (3-2) on September 5
4 – Sofia Maldonado of Mexico v USA (0-3) on September 5
4 – Salma Abdelhady of Egypt v Puerto Rico (3-1) on September 5

Top Individual Serving Performances
6 – Zhang Kefan of China v Cameroon (3-0) on September 5
5 – Georgiana Popa of Romania v Argentina (3-0) on September 5
5 – Farida Elhenawy of Egypt v Puerto Rico (3-1) on September 5

Top Team Blocking Performances
16 – Belarus v Thailand (3-2) on September 5
15 – Romania v Argentina (3-0) on September 5
11 – USA v Mexico (3-0) on September 5

Top Team Serving Performances
13 – Canada v Korea (3-1) on September 5
12 – Japan v Congo (3-0) on September 5
11 – China v Cameroon (3-0) on September 5
11 – Thailand v Belarus (2-3) on September 5

Highest Scoring Sets
30-28 Egypt v Puerto Rico (3rd set) on September 5
28-26 Belarus v Thailand (2nd set) on September 5
26-24 Egypt v Puerto Rico (1st set) on September 5

Highest Scoring Matches
216 – Belarus v Thailand 3-2 (19-25, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22, 15-11) on September 5
208 – Bulgaria v Peru 3-2 (25-23, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 19-17)

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