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Cambodia take second place

Germany captain Elmar Sommer holds up the WOVD World Cup trophy after their triumph over Cambodia in the final on Friday. Photo by: SRENG MENG SRUN

Germany’s absol-ute domination in standing volleyball over the past five years remained undisputed on Friday as the multiple international and European tit-le holders stormed through to a 25-17, 25-21, 26-28, 25-21 victory over Cambodia in the final of the 2011 WOVD World Cup at the indoor hall of Olympic Stadium.

There was an unprecedented outpouring of support for Cambodia in the packed stands as a record crowd turned up to watch a gripping two-hour drama, but in the end it was a handful of German fans passionately waving a Deutschland banner who carried the day.

Main setter Torbin Schiewe and spearhead spiker Robert Kampczyk once again struck a remarkable liaison to fashion another notable triumph, marking Germany’s coveted hat-trick of successive WOVD World Cup titles.

This was the Kingdom’s first appearance in a final since entering the World Cup stage in 2005.

“It’s a mixed feeling,” Cambodia head coach Hang Chhaya told the Post after the match.

“On one hand, I’m terribly disappointed that we lost. On the other, I’m elated that we are now the world’s second-best team and the prospects of gett-ing up to No 1 are now real.”

Christopher Minko, director of the local organising committee for the tournament, also confirmed their intent to top the sport’s rankings. “We will not stop until we are No 1 – we will keep going,” he said.

“We have created a record by organising three World Cups in a row, and we have already placed a bid for the 2013 World Championships.”

Minko also hailed a “breakthrough” by the organisers. “For a country tcat has the highest number of disabled people per capita, and where one in every 300 is an amputee, this grand display by Cambodia is a victory for disabled sports.

“I’m proud that we as a nat-ion are upholding the diginity of disabled people.”

Athanasios Papageorgiou, Germany’s coach for the past 28 years, shared his gratitude to the  hosts.

“I have great affection for Cambodia and its people, and Phnom Penh has been a sweet venue for us,” he said before his team left for home on Saturday.

“I must compliment Cambodia for making this a memor-able final. There is tremendous improvement in the team, and they are great competitors.

“It is here that we first won the World Cup in 2007 and again in 2009, and here we are fortunate to be successful for the third time.

“I owe this victory to excellent teamwork and extraordinary chemistry among the players.”

The coach, affectionately known as Papa, noted that the home side had “made it a bit easy for us in the first two sets” before forcing a fourth set by winning on extra points.

“I told the players to put this behind them, keep playing their natural game and keep attacking,” he said.

The stands began to swell even before the teams took the court on Friday evening. By the time the first point was played, it was a full house.

Germany seized on Cambodia’s lethargic beginning and some tactical blunders to run up a two-set lead and were coasting along at 20-15 in the third set when the home side staged a breathtaking comeback.

The home side reeled off nine points on the trot to create panic in the German camp and, although the visitors managed to level things at 24-all, Cambodia picked up two crucial points on good rotations to close out the nerve-racking set at 28-26.

Cambodia then shot into a 9-5 lead in the third before allowing Germany to draw level.

That was when key spiker Sang Veasna landed hard on his ankle when jumping for a net shot. Despite being willed back on by chants from the stands, the Cambodian was carried away.

“At a very critical stage of the match, we lost one of our best attackers, Sang Veasna, to an injury on court when we clearly had the momentum behind us,” Hang Chhaya said.

“Once Veasna went out of the equation, the match slipped out of our grasp.”

Cambodia’s motivation and fitness coach, Willie Guillory, said he wasn’t “holding out excuses” for the side’s defeat, but highlighted the injuries to four of their six starters for the final.

“It’s quite unfortunate, but despite all this we still made a gallant effort,” Guilloty said.

“I tell you, our boys just outjumped the rest and they were jumping higher than anyone else in the competition. I’m extremely proud of this team.”

Earlier on Friday, Sri Lanka took home the bronze medal on their debut in the competition after beating Slovakia 25-14, 25-16, 25-16 in the playoff for third place.

Kazakhstan handed debutants Laos the wooden spoon after wrapping up their two-leg, fifth-place playoff with their second victory on Friday.  

After the medals presentation, the following individual awards were handed out:
Best Server:
Sang Veasna (Cambodia)
Best Receiver:
Elmar Sommer (Germany)
Best Setter:
Torben Schiewe  (Germany)
Best Attacker:
Robert Kampczyk (Germany)
Best Blocker:
Ou Phalla (Cambodia)
Best Defender:
Amarasinghe Maggonage Buddhika (Sri Lanka)

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