China celebrate winning against the Dominican Republic in 2013
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 28, 2015 - Even if USA narrowly missed out on the medals when they finished fourth, coach Karch Kiraly was full of praise for the inaugural edition of the FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship in 2013, which
provided an opportunity “to improve every day, to become a better team
and a better coach.”
One year later, Kiraly led USA's women to their first senior World Championship title.
One of the stars of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 was local hero Valentina Diouf, who was the second best scorer in the Final Round. She also played an important role in the first edition of the Women's U23 World Championship, which took place from October 5-12 in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico. With 31 points in the duel against Japan, she set a tournament record for the most points in a match.
The new competition has been welcomed and this year's edition, which will take place in Ankara, Turkey from August 12-19, will host twelve teams from around the world.
“Most of the world's national teams have an important group of players who are in the U23 category. They constitute 40 or 50 percent of their programmes, which means that volleyball is in constant development,” said FIVB First Executive Vice-President and NORCECA President, Cristobal Marte Hoffiz. Speaking at the competition debut in 2013, he said: “Many of the players who will play here are the future stars that will be competing with their national teams at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020.”
“The organization of this U23 World Championship is the result of the visionary thinking of our FIVB President, Dr. Ary S. Graça F°. He is a person committed to development, which is the reason that we started a historic event,” he added.
Graça himself said that the new showdowns were introduced “in recognition of the need to sustain and develop the sporting success of young athletes. The U23 World Championships are the highest possible level to play internationally in this age group and are an important bridge to help athletes make the successful transition between junior and senior elite competition. The competition reinforces the FIVB’s commitment to developing the careers and skills of volleyball players around the world by offering more opportunities for international play and it is not only the athletes who benefit, since coaches, referees and tournament officials also have the opportunity to hone their skills through this channel.”
At the first edition in Mexico in 2013, twelve teams battled for the title. The teams first all played each other in the preliminary round, in two groups of six, which decided the four semifinalists. China, who have dominated the age group World Championships for many years, won the first ever gold. They prevailed over the Dominican Republic in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 26-24) in the final. China won all six of their matches in the competition held in the cities of Mexicali and Tijuana, and their accomplished setter and captain Yao Di was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the event.
“The match was played at a very high level and could have gone to either side,” said China’s coach Xu Jiande.
“The silver medal has a great value for us as a small country,” said Dominican Republic’s coach Marcos Kwiek. “We finished ahead of big countries such as the USA, Japan and Brazil and these girls have worked hard throughout the years.” Japan won the bronze medal after defeating Kiraly's USA team 3-1. Claudio Lopes Pinheiro, coach of Brazil, summed up the trainers' assessment: “After all this was a great learning experience for everybody, players and organization and I congratulate everybody and the FIVB for the initiative of a U23 World Championship.”
The second edition in Turkey will once again see twelve teams from around the world compete: Brazil, Colombia and Peru from South America, hosts Turkey, Bulgaria and Italy from Europe, reigning champions China, Japan and Thailand from Asia, Cuba and the Dominican Republic from NORCECA, and Egypt from Africa.