The German team retains their WOVD Volleyball World Cup title on Saturday with an impressive win in the finals over Slovakia; Cambodia finishes fourth
Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Germany captain Elmar Sommer (black shirt) smashes a spike at the Slovakia defence during their WOVD World Cup final Saturday.
GERMANY were crowned World Organization Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD) World Cup champions Saturday after defeating Slovakia 3-0 in the grand final at Olympic Stadium.
Earlier in the afternoon, Cambodia had put in a lacklustre performance in the third-place playoff to lose to an impressive Poland 3-0, who had gone from strength to strength after stumbling in their opening match against the hosts.
After a demoralising 3-1 defeat to Slovakia in the semifinals the previous night, Cambodia seemed a shadow of their former selves, with Poland dominating every sector of the court. The Europeans opened up a significant lead early on as the Cambodians struggled to motivate themselves, seemingly sapped of all their earlier vitality. The set went 25-18 to the visitors, and lead stayed in Cambodian’s boots throughout the second, which saw their worst performance of the entire tournament as they conceded it 13-25.
The home support rallied behind the team for a final push in the third, and with Man Veasna cranking a final spark there seemed a faint hope of retaining their third-place world ranking. But it was too little too late, as Coach Zepp’s frustrations reached their peak. Cambodia lost the final set 21-25, and with it their place on the podium.
Despite the home team’s failure to make the final, both Germany and Slovakia were genuinely delighted at the capacity crowd that turned out in force Saturday evening to enjoy the elite level volleyball on display.
CTN recorded its highest-ever ratings for any outside broadcast over the previous two days, as the nation remained gripped by the event. Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Ith Sam Heng presided over the final, and Prime Minister Hun Sen called personally to thank the teams and organising committee for staging such a hugely popular and successful event.
Known for their ruthless efficiency, Germany faced a Slovak side pumped up for battle, but the world champions set the tempo high from the outset and put on an awesome tactical display. Martin Vogel, Oliver Gutfleisch and Robert Kampcyck combined at the net to zip unstoppable spikes past an increasingly tense Slovakia, with veteran skipper Elmar Sommer setting to perfection to take the first set convincingly 25-19.
Germany stepped on the gas again in the second, proving to all that they had been somewhat on autopilot in many of their preliminaries. Their mastery of space and positioning made the court appear half its size, as Olaf Hansel and Torben Schieve let nothing past them to consistently allow Vogel and Kampcyck total domination of the net. Slovakia captain Josef Mihalco found his infamous cross court spike endlessly bouncing back into his own half, and the rigid wall needed to stop the Germans from scoring was torn apart to see the second set won 27-25.
The World Cup trophy seemed destined to belong once again to Germany as the third set got under way. To their credit, Slovakia never laid down, with Lubomir Novosad and Jan Kacmarik putting in sterling performances to keep the dreams of gold alive. However, Germany coach Athanasios “Papa” Papageorgiou always held the upper hand against his nemesis of many moons, Slovakia coach Helena Hankova.
The crowd showed their appreciation of the standard of play throughout, slightly favouring underdogs Slovakia, with both teams in awe of the spectator numbers unheard of in European competition.
In the third set, Slovakia looked tired having had lengthier matches than their opponents in the week’s build up. Germany turned on the style as the smell of victory wafted through the air. Slovakia had very little in reply, despite some valiant efforts from veteran Juraj Kosirel and newcomer Juraj Kujej.
Elmar Sommer and company used their expert strategy to sweep the Slovakians 25-15, in a richly deserved triumph which they took with the dignity of true champions. Coach Athanasious Papageorgiou once again cemented his reputation as the godfather of world volleyball.
In the awards ceremony after the match, Ith Sam Heng presented Germany with the Cambodia Cellcard 2009 WOVD Volleyball World Cup and winners medals, which were specially commissioned by Armed Arts sculptor George Friml for the event. Individual honours were also awarded to standout players during the torunament. Athletes from various sides also claimed prizes.
Cambodia finished outside the medals in fourth, ahead of India in fifth, and Malaysia in sixth.