Brazil defeats Italy in women's volleyball

Aug. 17, 2008, 1:02 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Brazil downed Italy in three sets Sunday to finish undefeated in preliminaries and first in its pool for the women's volleyball quarterfinals.

Sheilla Castro had 14 points for Brazil, which won 25-15, 25-22, 27-17 to go 5-0 in round-robin pool play. Italy had also been undefeated going into the match and finished second after the preliminary round.

"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.

Brazil will face the fourth-place winner of the opposite pool, Japan, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Italy will face the United States.

Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the world, had 18 blocks for points compared to two for Italy, which is ranked No. 2.

Middle blocker Fabiana Claudino sealed the second set with a resounding spike, then clenched her fists and yelled for joy. 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 this game. We didn't play our best."

In the late match in the same pool, Russia defeated Serbia in three sets (25-21, 25-16, 25-20).

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

Cuba will face fourth-place Serbia in the quarterfinals. Russia defeated Serbia in three sets (25-21, 25-26, 25-20) on Sunday and will face Japan.

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

U.S. 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.

In the same pool, China defeated Japan in three sets (26-24, 25-26, 25-24).

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.