The United States won for the first time since 1985 at the 2015 Men’s World Cup. The 12 team tournament was held in a round robin format where each team played the other 11 teams over three rounds to determine the world champion. The winner and runner up qualified to the Olympics. The Men’s World Cup was held across six cities of Japan from September 8th to September 23rd 2015.
The first round contained five matches over six days. Two of the biggest matches for this round were between Italy and the United States and between Russia and Poland. The United States defeated Italy in straight sets including a 29-27 win in the third set. While Russia won the first set Poland would go to take the next three to win the match 3-1. Among matches between the other teams despite losing all five of its matches Egypt took three teams, including Japan to five sets before losing. Iran also almost scored an upset against Poland when they took a 2-0 lead, but they failed to win a third set as they lost the match 3-2. After the first round the United States and Poland remained undefeated while Italy and Russia remained behind them with a single loss each.
The three match second round established a hierarchy between the top six of United States, Poland, Russia, Italy, Argentina and Japan over the bottom six as they won almost all of their matches. The lone exception was Iran’s win over Japan. Despite Japan taking a 2-0 lead Iran was able to comeback from the deficit to win the match in a five set thriller. The loss eliminates Japan’s chance from winning the tournament and essentially creates a very specific scenario for them to qualify for the Olympics.
The schedule for the third and final round had the current top six facing off each other in three matches. Among the teams out of contention for the title it was Canada that led the way with three victories to finish in seventh place. Tunisia almost got its first win of the World Cup, but despite being up 2-1 against Egypt they would ultimately lose 3-2 and finish winless.
Among the teams in contention the biggest match of the round was the United States and Poland as both teams were undefeated at that point. While the United States easily won the first set it was Poland who regained their rhythm to win the next three points and grab the all-important win. Russia was dealt with back to back blows as 3-0 losses to Italy and the United States eliminated them from Olympic contention. Going into the final matches it was Poland, the United States and Italy whom were in contention for both the title and Olympic contention.
One of those final matches was between Poland and Italy. After two sets both teams were tied 1-1, but it was Italy who triumphed by winning the match 3-1. This moved Italy above Poland because they had a better sets ratio and left Poland’s Olympic hopes to Argentina defeating the United States. In the end the United States won 3-1 to not only take the second Olympic quota, but to win the World Cup itself.
With both in the Olympics Italy will be hoping to improve its bronze medal from 2012 while the United States will hope to improve from their lackluster quarterfinal defeat. Poland and other nations will have more opportunities to qualify to the Olympics as continental qualifications will begin in 2016.
- United States
- FIVB. 2015 Volleyball World Cup Pools and Ranking. Access on September 23 2015.