The answer is of course, when it is a friendly match. Despite all the comings and goings of the last couple of weeks, there were exactly zero surprising results on the first day of the World Championships. There were a couple of surprising scores, but in the end no damage done. The biggest non surprsing result was undoubtedly Germany’s meek submission to Serbia. They learnt quickly that winning a friendly match/es at home in front of a screaming crowd, whoever the opponent, is no real preparation for playing against battle hardened veterans in a major tournament. And there are no more battle hardened veterans than Grbic and Miljkovic. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, had what can nicely be described as a disastrous last series of friendly matches before the tournament, losing to a series of poor opponents up to and including an Austrian club team. But yesterday the combination of multiple Rivera’s, Piki Soto and a real match was enough to win against Australia.
Other notable scores/performances included…
– Argentina beating Venezuela could, on recent international results (eg Venezuela qualified for the 2008 Olympics at Argentina’s expense), be classified as a small surprise, although they have been largely inactive this summer.
– Poland’s crushing (at least in the third set) of Canada in the group of death. Poland against Serbia will be a fascinating match.
– Spain bouncing back from a poor summer to push Cuba to five sets.
– Czech Republic pushing France to five sets. The defence of Antiga in decisive moments was unforgettable.
– USA needing five sets to beat Mexico, after being down 0-2. None of the press releases mentioned Mexico’s starting passer hitter being injured in the third (?, I wasn’t watching that closely) set and needing to be replaced. It is fair to say USA is not USA without Priddy (in the 14, but not the 12) although a dominant Stanley can solve (or at least mask) a lot of problems.
– Asia had a disastrous day, winning a total of 1 set (Australia against Puerto Rico) in four matches.
– Brazil trying to replace Marlon in it’s squad of 14, but FIVB refusing, leaving them with only one setter for at least the first part of the tournament.