F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 09.07.2003

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FIVB $15 million World League Finals

Madrid, July 9, 2003 – The Czech Republic and Greece mounted joint attacks at the FIVB $15 Million World League on Wednesday knowing the outcome of their match would decide their final four fate. Urged on by pockets of their own team aficionados in this converted bullfighting ring in the Spanish capital from which the Czechs emerged the winners after claiming a 3-1 victory. “This was a game we had to win,” said Czech captain Ivo Dubs. “The Greeks played well in the opening set but then we found our game.” Greece, clearly being groomed for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games proved the stronger in the opener, stealing the match 25-18 but the Czech Republic, which is bristling with talent took the lead at 8-7 in the second and with 23-year- old Martin Lebl and leaping, 205cm Michal Rak spreading his hands like dinner plates on the block they managed to repel the Greek charge with a narrow 19-18 lead. Lebl showed his gentle side with a tiny drop shot over the net for 23-18 but the Greeks clambered back a point before Lebl presented his team with set point, then converted with a massive attack that put them back in the game. The Czechs ran up a significant four point lead to 19-16 and ended up closing the set 25-21 to level and set the stage for a Greek drama in the third. Czech grins became broader in the opening phase of the fourth as their well placed shots and several errors from the opposition put them narrowly in front. At 14-9 their coach Pavel Rerabek was also bordering on joyful while the Greeks, whose shots all too often found the net rather than the opposite court, were decidedly rattled as the Czechs subsequently ran up a 7-point lead. Dubs and Rak blocked for 21-12 and Jakub Novotny dropped a neat little shot over for 22-13 then Rak’s rocket made it match point for the Czech Republic. They briefly lost the advantage but then the normally deadly Greek captain Marios Gkiordas drove his serve into the net to turn the fate of the Greeks from drama to tragedy, only to be accompanied by the wild celebratory drumbeats of the Czech fans. Lebl and Gkiourdas shared top scorer honors with 15 points each. With one win and one loss, Czech hopes remain alive for the final four. ”We played better than last night (against Spain), but I think the Czech side is a better team,” said Stelianos Prosalikas the Greek coach, adding that his team were tired and seemed not to have the stamina to retain their first set performance. The two sides had met in the Intercontinental rounds where the talented Czechs had topped the table and the two had consorted to eliminate World Champion bronze medalist France in the preliminaries. Czech coach Rerabek said he was glad that his team was able to confirm their win in the group table with Wednesday’s performance. Earlier, Italy steamed past Bulgaria 3-1 to stay in the tournament but now have a formidable match against world champions Brazil in their last pool encounter on Thursday. In the second session, Brazil and Russia mount a Battle of the Titans and Spain faces Serbia and Montenegro in the day’s final match.


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