World League debutants Czech Republic on Saturday consolidated their position in Pool D with their sixth consecutive victory when they shut out Japan 3-1 in their first encounter for this weekend in the FIVB $15 million World League Intercontinental Rounds. The group, which started one week ahead of the other three pools has only one week to play and the Czech performance, coupled with France’s demise at the hands of a powerful Greece on Friday, almost certainly assures them a place in the finals in Madrid in July.
Japan, which brings up the rear have seen their hopes of advancing dashed in what has been a highly competitive pool. France has only the slimmest chance of making the final eight. They would have to beat Greece in their second encounter and see the Czech Republic go down to Japan and then with three teams tied with 15 points on the table, places would be decided on superior set ratio.
Meanwhile in Pool A Russia continued to charge forward undefeated with two victories over Venezuela on Friday and Saturday to underline their determination to retain the World League title, while Poland and Spain split their matches. Poland is second on the table with a 4-4 win ratio, with Spain and Venezuela bringing up the rear.
In Pool B Germany stole two sets from the world champions Brazil but ultimately went down in the tiebreaker in their first encounter and meet again in Berlin on Sunday. Both teams played without their captains. Nalbert, the Brazilian captain was rested and stayed home and Stephan Hübner, the German captain is nursing a knee injury.
Portugal faced Italy at home in their opening encounter on Saturday, and while the were able to stay in the match, the Italians, the most successful World League team in the history of the competition, still took a clean 3-0 victory to deny the young Portuguese team their second only victory in the Intercontinental Round.
Pool C teams will play their second encounter on Sunday when Netherlands an Cuba will be out to exact revenge on Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro respectively.
Pools A, B and C play two more weeks of intercontinental rounds, while Pool D finishes their encounters next weekend.
Results from Friday and Saturday:
Russia beat Venezuela 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 27-25) - duration 1:29
Russia beat Venezuela 3-1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-13, 25-21) - duration 1:38
Poland beat Spain 3-1 (25-22, 33-31, 15-25, 25-14) - duration 1:53
Spain beat Poland 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-11) - duration 2:06
Brazil beat Germany 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 22-25, 21-25, 15-9) - duration 2:03
Italy beat Portugal 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 28-26) – duration
Bulgaria beat Netherlands 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-18) - duration 1:13
Yugoslavia beat Cuba 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-19) - duration 1:11
Greece beat France 3-2 (26-24, 30-28, 22-25, 21-25, 15-13) - duration 2:23
Czech Republic beat Japan 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22) - duration 1:48