Rafael Pascual (Pascual), who returns to World League after a year's
absence, is the most outstanding new addition to the 18-man squad named by Spain's national coach Francisco Hervás to prepare for the 2003 World League. Spain also hosts the finals of this prestigious annual FIVB tournament in the capital of Madrid, the native city of the Spanish captain.
Pascual was not part of the Spanish team that contested the 2002 World
League, although he did compete for Spain at the 2002 World Championship in Argentina later in the year.
As well as Pascual, Manuel Berenguel is another notable selection by Hervás.
The 32-year-old libero of the club Unicaja Almeria makes his first appearance in the national jersey. Five times Spanish Beach Volley champion, Berenguel is very well known in Spanish Volleyball circles. Spain meets Russia, Poland and Venezuela in the Intercontinental Round with the tranquility of knowing they are, as hosts, automatic qualifiers for the finals.
The Spanish coach continues to rely on his players who have formed the foundation of the team that finished sixth in the 2002 edition, which was the best result at international level in the history of this sport in Spain.
The World League finals in Madrid (July 8-13) where the eight elite team of the world will contest the tournament in this US$ 15 million annual competition, represent the biggest international Volleyball competition since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The Vistalegre stadium, inaugurated in 2000 and which frequently hosts basketball and bullfights, has a seating capacity of 15,000, creating a unique opportunity for Spanish volleyball enthusiasts and the general public to witness the world's best in action.
The team, which has been trained by Hervás since its World League debut in 1995 features a range of internationally respected players, who must now address a certain deficit: until now they have never been on the podium of an international competition. With their home supporters behind them it may be Spain's chance to correct that deficit in 2003.
Alfonso Flores (Numancia Caja Duero), Jordi Gens (Niza, FRA) and Cosme
Prenafeta (Unicaja Almería) Rafael Pascual (Perugia, ITA), Luis Pedro Suela and José Antonio Casilla (Unicaja Almería), Juan Carlos Vega (Festival Park), Manuel Sevillano (Numancia Caja Duero) and Kike de la Fuente (Piacenza, ITA), Gustavo Saucedo (Niza, FRA), Guillermo Falasca (Knack Roeselare, BEL) and Rubén Antequera (Park-Ky Menem, BEL) David Sánchez (PTV Málaga), Carlos Carreño and Juanjo Salvador (Unicaja Almería), José Luis Moltó (Kanck Roeselare, BEL), Manuel Berenguel (Unicaja Almería) and Alexis Valido (Friedrichshafen, GER).