After booking their ticket to Argentina at the European Championship held in early April, Italy are now looking forward to another match against Serbia, as they faced each other in one of the semifinals of the continental contest staged in the Netherlands. Both teams were seeded atop of Pool C, while ranking-qualified Poland, debutants Colombia and also Thailand were drawn respectively.
Meanwhile, Pool D looks like a mouth-watering race with five world-class teams coliding - four-time world champions China, 2011 gold medalists Turkey, current Asian champions Japan, South American runner-up Peru and NORCECA champions Dominican Republic.
Pool B seems equally thrilling with first world-ranked USA, European champions Russia and South American champions Brazil grouped together, meaning that one of these three powerhouses will advance to the quarterfinals, after a battle that will also include Belarus and Mexico.Last but not least, hosts Argentina lead Pool A followed by Germany, Slovenia, Korea and Cuba. While all of them missed the final of their respective continental championships recently, they still may pose a threat to a host team that dreams of improving their best ever performance - a seventh place earned at the 1991 edition held in Portugal.
Four time champions China finished third in 2015 and are in Pool D with 2011 winners Turkey, Asian champs Japan, South American runner-up Peru and NORCECA champions Dominican Republic
The Drawing of Lots, which marked 100 days to the start of competition, featured an official presentation with national and local authorities in front of several media representatives.
Here are the excerpts of the press conference, all of them emphasizing about the great opportunity for Argentina to be the host country of such an important event:
Mónica Fein, Rosario city Mayoress: “For our city it is a big pride and honour to host this championship. Rosario has been growing as a venue for international events and together with Santa Fe province we have worked hard on strengthening our institutions. We are fully committed with this World Championship and will do our best to ensure its success.”
Roberto Escobar, FIVB Delegate: “On behalf of FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça Fº, it’s a pleasure to be again in Argentina for an international competition. It’s not a coincidence to have another World Championship - it’s a consequence of the great work carried out by Argentinean Volleyball Federation led by its President Juan Antonio Gutiérrez. I’m confident it will be a fantastic tournament.”
Jorge Álvarez, Santa Fe province Minister of Social Development: “All clubs in our province as well as the Santa Fe Federation have been working a lot in recent years, reflected not only on the result of our teams but also on hosting this prestigious event. Collaborative work between public and private structures is what boosted Santa Fe province atop of the volleyball stage in Argentina, and we are sure that many more players and clubs will devote to our sport if we continue on this path.”
Fabián Bochatay, Argentinean Volleyball Federation 1st Vice-President: “Working together is the only way we can grow and achieve our goals. We aim to have more and more children practicing volleyball and thus we provide the tools to the clubs for the best possible environment. Now we’re facing an exciting challenge with Santa Fe Federation and the work of our President Juan Antonio Gutiérrez - to host this amazing World Championship.”
Estanislao Vachino, Argentina Head Coach: “To play on home soil and wear the Argentinean uniform is a privilege. Female volleyball has grown a lot in our country and this is a consequence. As for the competition, first we want to be among the eight best teams and then see who we have to play against. We are aware this is a World Championship - there are no easy rivals ahead.”
Pilar Cina, Argentina player: “I agree with our coach - none of the teams will be easy. That said, I’m pretty satisfied with the pool we have ahead, as it’s not the simplest nor the hardest. However, playing in our country is twice the pressure. I was already nervous during the Drawing of Lots… But we know we will jump on court with the support of families, friends and the whole Argentinean volleyball, watching us from full stands.”