F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 12.07.2003

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FIVB $15 million World League Finals - Brazil advances to final after straight sets win over Czech Republic

Madrid, July 12, 2003 - If volleyball was an opera, it fell to Brazil on Saturday to sing the leading aria as they faced newcomers Czech Republic in the second semifinal of the FIVB $15 million World League, the elite annual men's competition. And with a swift straight sets (25-12, 25-20, 25-18) victory to Brazil, all that stands between them and the World League title is to sing the encore against finalists and Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro on Sunday. "We played very well in defense and tactics and this was what made the difference," said Brazilian captain Nalbert Bitencourt. The Czech captain Ivo Dubs agreed. "There was only one team on the court today. We were unable to find the key to unlock their defense and we lost to the best team in the world," he said. The Czechs powered through their Intercontinental Round and the finals preliminaries to secure their semifinal berth but their road to glory came to a dead end on Saturday when the World Champions outran and outplayed them. The Czech side now faces another stiff opponent in Italy in Sunday's bronze medal match, but whatever the outcome, they can leave the tournament proud of their achievement. Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende praised the Czech team saying that Brazil had been worried before the match. "They have some very good players and we did not want them to break away and play loose so we made a lot of pressure right from the start," Rezende said. Brazil was on board with a stunning lineup of talent led by their captain Nalbert and from the first whistle they out-blocked and out-served their opponents, neutralizing their big hitters and sneaking around their defense in the lightning moves that characterize their game. It was high flying Gavio Giovane who drove home the winner to wrap up the first set 25-12. After that shock the Czechs settled and leveled at 6-all in the second and seemed less intimidated, hanging on until the middle of the set before Brazil again ignited their rocket fuel. Then Andre Heller delivered the winning point for Brazil when he leapt skywards and smashed straight into the Czech court to make it 25-20 and 2-0 for the World Champions. Again the Czechs hung on during the opening phase of the third set but Brazil had a solid five-point lead at 20-15 when Anderson Rodrigues delivered a terrifying spike that opened the way for them to polish off the match. Czech Michal Rak smashed his serve into the net to give Brazil match point, the Czechs defended but then incurred yet another service error to give the set to Brazil 25-18 and a well deserved place in the finals. Earlier Serbia and Montenegro also beat Italy 3-0 to snatch the first finals berth. The teams make volleyball history on Sunday when as world champions and Olympic champions they face off for the first time ever in the final of a top international competition. Follow all the World League action on www.fivb.org


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