As I watched USA thump Italy in the first set of last night’s match, I thought two thoughts – maybe having to play hard in every match just to get through could have led to better form at the end of the tournament and that maybe the karma police were having their say on Italy. At the end of the match, I discovered I had learnt two things. The USA and Italy had to play hard in every match just to get through because they aren’t very good. And there is no karma police. The second statement would be backed up by US captain Reid Priddy who had some thinly veiled criticisms about the conduct of the Italian players during the match. Even from my highly pixelated ‘TV’ footage it seemed apparent that Italian captain Vermiglio was in ‘fine’ sledging mode both against the US team and the referees. Priddy was obviously affected during the fourth set and at one stage was called to referee (for retaliating?) as Vermiglio pointed to the scoreboard. At the end in a match in which none of the spikers could get into any kind of rhythm the match ended the only way it could have; Stanley for the 30th time in the match having to check his approach, jump backwards to hit the ball and got blocked. On this performance, Italy will struggle against Brazil’s second ‘setter’.
The winner of the day is Serbian coach Ivan Kolakovic who after beating Russia and getting the first semi final spot declared he was ‘the happiest man alive‘. At least part of his happiness is derived from the fact that having started the fiasco by throwing the first round game against Poland, subsequent events have led his actions to be forgotten and to this headline from the German volleyball press ‘Serbia Punishes Russian Cheating‘. The karma police definitely had the day off.