Taiwan, who surprised Asian rivals Japan and South Korea, continued their giant-killing run at the women's world volleyball championships yesterday by beating European champions Poland 25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23 for a fourth straight win in Group A.
The victory assured Taiwan of a place in the round of 16 which is set to kick off next week.
"I'm very surprised that we won this game today. Poland is one of the strongest teams in the world with wonderful technique. My players played very well today and this was a precious experience for us," said Taiwan's coach Lin Kuang-hung (
"It was our worst game of the championships. My players kept repeating mistakes and did not learn their lessons from previous matches," said Poland's coach Ireneusz Klos.
Two-time Olympic silver medalists Russia avenged their loss to China in the Athens Olympics with a four-set victory.
The Russian women, who lost to China 15-13 in the final set in Athens, scored a 20-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-12 win to remain unbeaten with four straight wins in the Pool B round robin in Sapporo.
"I'm glad we won this match today, because we lost to them in the past couple of years," said Russian coach Giovanni Caprara. "But you can't talk about revenge, because that was an Olympic final and this was just a group match."
"We started off very badly and conceded two service aces and had three defensive mistakes before the first technical time-out. I think we were a bit nervous because we hadn't beaten China for a long time and this is normal," he said.
"After losing the first set, we did not really change our tactics that much, it was more a case of paying more attention. China started to drop a bit and that also helped us for our victory," added Caprara.
Russian captain Natalia Safronova said: "We are happy with this victory. I think we should thank our coach because he supported us and helped us turn things around. We were good in both defense and attack."
China's coach Cheng Zhonghe said: "I think we prepared for this match quite well and it's a pity that we lost."
For China, it was their first defeat after winning their opening three matches.
Germany defeated Azerbaijan 27-25, 25-18, 25-20 in Group B for a 3-1 win-loss record to join Russia, China, Taiwan, Poland, Brazil, the US, and Serbia and Montenegro in the second stage.
Serbia and Montenegro beat Egypt 25-9, 25-13, 25-15 while Turkey downed Peru 25-27, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 15-9 in Group D.
Brazil outgunned the US 25-23, 25-21, 25-13, Kazakhstan outplayed former African champions Cameroon 25-20, 25-13, 25-12 in Group C, while Costa Rica defeated Kenya 19-25, 23-25, 25-16, 32-30, 15-9 for their first win in Group A.