DA: Cornacchia World Cup
A tough weekend with a high level. Well worth the long bus trip there!
After a 26 hour long bus trip down to Pordenone, Italy, the team was tired and probably wondering what all the fuss was about with the tournament. This all changed after the opening ceremony and having the opportunity to see the competition up close. A lot of the womens teams were tall and looked well conditioned. It was not until the first match that we really were able to understand the level of the tournament.
The first team we met was Argentario Pallavolo (Placed 3rd overall) from Italy. Their starting six consisted of tall outsides, setter and right side. That being said, RIG got a good 3 point head start with pressure in the serve. We were able to stay with them through out the match, working with the block as well as we could. We knew going in it was going to be tough, however it was exciting to see the girls able to hang with them and make them work hard for the win. The matches on the first day were 2 out of 3 sets, this match ended 0-2. The score of the first set was 19-25 and the second 21-25.
The second and third matches were quite similar to one another. The teams were ASSM Portugal and Pallavolo Meduna. Both teams were weak in attack, having only one or two players able to pack a punch. RIG was able to control both teams easily with the serve and attack. However, against ASSM Portugal, RIG had trouble in serve receive and attack which enabled Portugal to gain on us through out the match. Still we prevailed and won 25-22 and 25-23. With Pallavolo Meduna, the match went more smoothly. With better efficiency in attack, RIG was able to solidify their second place finish in the group with 25-14 and 25-23.
The second day of play, we knew we were going to meet much tougher opponents. RIG was up against Northern Lights (Placed 4th overall) from the US in their first match of the day and then against Latvia for the second. These two matches were 3 of 5 sets and very important to win since it would help us get to the quarter finals. Northern Lights was a well rounded club consisting of many great players and a tall left handed setter. They played a fast game and hit hard. Again RIG's serve was spectacular with 14 aces recorded. However, our own receive and side out play faultered and failed too many times. The match ended with scores 20-25, 21-25, 22-25.
With team Latvia (Placed 10th overall) we had similar issues. Team Latvia had a very good left handed opposite who made most of the points. We ended up trying to block her angle and have our position 2 take the tips which worked well in the third set, but with out our sideout game, we could not gain a win. Final scores were 23-25, 21-25 and 25-27.
The last team we played was another Italian team, Chions Fiume Volley (Placed 14th overall). Their team consisted of a solid 12 players. They played a lot of back row from the 10 and pushed the sets to the outsides. RIG's side out game was working much better this day which launched us to a 2-0 lead in sets. With some changes in Chions line up in the third, the players were hitting harder and smarter. RIG was unfortunately put off their game with these changes and were unable to recover. Final scores of all 5 sets 25-21, 25-23, 17-25,17-25 and 9-15.
The womens final was an exciting match between the Japanese national team and the Italian national team. It was inspirational to see the small Japanese players jumping high and hitting so hard. The Italian team faught hard, however it was not enough for the defense savy players of Japan.
Overall, RIG placed 15 out of 32 teams.
"I didn't know what to expect coming to the tournament. We had some players who barely played with the Elite team during the season, but I knew they would be helpful due to developments I had seen in the past month or so. Our highest level was reached on day two of the tournament. Our serve pressure was probably the best I have seen all season. I would very much like to come back to this tournament again, the competition level is perfect for RIG and its exciting to play against their own age group. They can really see where they match up against the rest of the world. Its a huge learning experience for everyone involved."- Coach Whitney Turner