LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 6 - Week 4 of the $15million World League Intercontinental Rounds started with four games on Friday in a night of surprises with Russia surviving a scare before defeating Spain in five sets, Bulgaria claiming another big-name scalp in the Netherlands, Venezuela claiming their first 2003 World League victory while France dismissed Greece in straight sets to jump back to the top of the Pool D standings.
France reclaimed their World Championship form with a devastating 3-0 (26-24, 30-28, 25-23) win in Greece to jump back on top of the Pool D standings. After last weekend's two defeats in the Czech Republic the unpredictable French reclaimed some lost ground with a superb result, which could have gone either way. "Our victory was a happy surprise for us," said French coach Philippe Blain. "Not that we didn't believe that we could win, but if one had seen our training during the past week, one would know what I mean".
"For the first time in my three years with the National Team, never have I lost a match in such a way," said Greece coach Stelios Prosalikas. "We were always leading by three or four points but in the end we made so many errors. In the way we lost 0-3, we could also have won 3-0".
Meanwhile, the defending World League Champions Russia kept their unbeaten record in Pool A of this year's World League, just, after seeing off Spain in five sets (25-18, 25-23, 24-26, 23-25, 15-9). The number one team ranked in the world jumped to a two-set lead before the home side fought back to claim sets three and four before normality resumed and Russia sealed the win in the fifth.
The other Pool A match of the night saw joyous scenes in Bydgoszcz but not for the home fans. Venezuela went to Poland and stole the party by registering their first win with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) win over the hosts.
In the final match on Friday night Bulgaria, the surprise package of the World League, claimed another top scalp with a stunning 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20) win over Pool C leaders the Netherlands. It is the second upset in two weekends for the Eastern Europeans after they beat the Olympic and European Champions Serbia and Montenegro last Sunday.
All eight teams are in action again this weekend with Spain hosting Russia again on Sunday (10:00 GMT) while the six other teams face off again on Saturday.