Late update - Netherlands defeats Bulgaria in tiebreaker in Varna
Lausanne, June 15 – Title holders Russia and World Champions Brazil are so far the giant killers in this, the 14th edition of the $15 million World League, while Czech Republic, four matches ahead in Pool D have topped their table and proved to be worthy debutants to the competition.
Russia remained unbeaten after hosting the young Venezuelan side, who expressed satisfaction at stealing a single set from the champions with their captain Ernando Gomez saying: “I think it was a great match. Today our young team received a wonderful lesson in good Volleyball”.
In the other Pool A action Poland and Spain finished a match apiece with Poland supported by crowds of around 10,000 spectators on both occasions. Poland is second behind Russia with a 4-4 win loss ratio, while Spain and Venezuela bring up the rear.
Germany was twice humbled against Brazil in Berlin but in their first match drove the world champions to the tiebreaker.
“As we did in Munich against Italy, we played well but it was only fair that we lost the fifth set. We didn’t succeed in keeping up the high level and we had to pay for that,” said Wolfgang Kuck, Germany’s captain.
Brazil is equal with Italy in Pool B after Italy triumphed twice over Portugal who lies fourth.
A battle of attrition is underway in Pool C between Serbia and Montenegro and Bulgaria and the traditional Balkan rivals are jostling for the top spot after this weekend’s matches after Serbia and Montenegro twice dismissed Cuba and Bulgaria defeated Netherlands on Saturday and had the rematch late on Sunday.
But it is the Czech Republic that has drawn praise in their first ever World League. They wrapped up their two away matches against Japan and are firmly atop the Pool D table while Greece and France grapple for second place with only one weekend to go.
Those two split their matches this weekend with Greece triumphing in Paris and France coming back strongly in Dijon on Sunday. With only one week left for this group, France goes to Japan next weekend while Czech Republic and Greece will contest a no holds barred encounter.