Madrid, July 10, 2003 - Traditional rivals Serbia and Montenegro and Greece
faced off on Thursday in their final match of the preliminaries of the FIVB
$15 million World League with Serbia and Montenegro claiming a 3-1 (26-24,
25-15, 15-25, 25-21) win against Greece to top Pool E and guarantee a place
in the semifinals on Saturday.
"Today was a difficult match for us because we were already qualified and
Greece was out so we had our ups and downs," said Serbia and Montenegro's
captain, Nikola Grbic.
Serbia had their characteristic sleepy start and Greece held the advantage
through most of the opening set, but then the "Blues" kick-started and emerged
Looking more like the European and Olympic champions they are, Serbia and
Montenegro then steamed ahead by five points to 8-3 in the second set. They
fielded Igor Vusurovic, who had sat out several of the earlier matches, and
he combined well with big-hitting Ivan Miljkovic and setter Nikola Grbic
to give them a 14-10 edge. At 22-14 Grbic, Vusurovic and Goran Vujevic were
sharing a joke at the net, clearly relaxed as they then powered to 25-15
and a 2-0 lead.
Then slipping in concentration they let Greece accumulate a four-point lead
in the third set and when Greece went on to extend to 16-9, it was no longer
a laughing matter.
Already chanceless to advance to the semifinals of this elite men's annual
competition, the Greeks then closed the third set 25-15 in their favor and
forced Serbia and Montenegro into a longer "training session" than they had
Even for the Olympic champions, it was now time to get serious again.
Powerhouses Miljkovic and Andrija Geric were on the court, well supported
by 21-year old Bojan Janic, while Grbic contributed his cunning intuition
as setter, taking a sly, almost imperceptible glance to right and left before
depositing the ball on the fingertips of his players. Greece however was
far from through, and even with captain Marios Gkiourdas on the bench, they
pulled back to level at 18-all in the fourth set.
Grbic drove home an immense shot close to the net and Miljovic fired from
near the baseline to make it 23-20 for Serbia and Montenegro then at set
point Geric slammed his serve into the net. Seconds later Greece did the
same and Serbia and Montenegro walked off 3-1 winners.
Greece, nevertheless took the honors for top scorer, with Nikolas Roumeliotis
powering on 20 points from 12 attacks and eight blocks.
Commenting ahead of the semifinals, Serbia and Montenegro's captain Grbic
said his team had no preference for who they would meet in their next match.
"If we want to win (the title), we have to beat them all," he said.
In later matches, Italy and Brazil meet first then the Czech Republic and
Spain fight it out for a semifinal berth. Earlier Bulgaria pulled off perhaps
the surprise of the tournament so far when they sent the title defenders
Russia packing 3-1.