Brazil, US win in women's volleyball

Aug. 17, 2008, 6:08 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the world, downed second-ranked Italy in three sets Sunday to finish undefeated in the preliminary round and in first place in its pool for the women's volleyball quarterfinals in Beijing.

Sheilla Castro had 14 points for Brazil, which won 25-15, 25-22, 27-17 and went 5-0 in round-robin pool play. Italy was undefeated going into the match.

"It should have been a tough match today, but I can't say it was because we beat them 3-0," Brazilian middle blocker Walewska Oliveira said. "We controlled the game and I hope we can maintain this trend.

Both teams had to wait until the matches concluded Sunday before learning which teams they will face in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Brazil had 18 blocks for points compared to Italy's two.

Middle blocker Fabiana Claudino sealed the second set with a resounding spike, then clinched her fists and yelled victoriously. The match was won on Sheilla's spike.

Fabiana, as she is known, hopped in victory.

"We took this match very seriously," said captain Helia Souza, who is known as Fofao.

Given the world rankings, the match was a big draw for fans on both sides, who traded chants of "It-al-ia!" and "Bra-sil!" throughout.

But when it was over, Italian captain Eleonora Lo Bianco said: "I don't have much to say about his game. We didn't play our best."

Italy won the 2007 World Cup, followed by Brazil and the United States, to earn a spot in Beijing. The 12 teams that qualified were divided into two pools for the preliminaries, with the top four teams in each advancing to the quarterfinals.

In the opposite pool, Cuba was undefeated after a three-set victory over Venezuela (25-20, 25-20, 25-19), while the U.S. women's team defeated Poland in five sets.

The United States had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals before the 18-25, 25-21 19-25, 25-19, 15-13 victory. The women finished the preliminary round 4-1, with the lone loss coming to Cuba.

Coach Jenny Lang Ping was still not satisfied.

"We are not playing consistently," she said. "We have to have a great game in the quarterfinals to prove ourselves.

With the loss, Poland was eliminated. Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Algeria also failed to advance.

Kazakhstan defeated Algeria 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-16) in the day's first match.