LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 21, 2003 - Defending World League champions Russia confirmed their spot in the World League Finals with a comprehensive 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) win over Poland in Pool A and in the process registering their ninth successive victory in ominous style after the opening night of Week 6 of the $15million Intercontinental Rounds on Friday.
The win moved the undefeated Russian team out to an unassailable 18 points with three matches to play and proved they will definitely be hot favourites when they defend their World League title during the Final Round, which runs from July 8-13 in Madrid, Spain. The Final Round hosts, who automatically qualify for the second phase, moved level with Poland on 13 points after a five-set 3-2 (23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13) victory, their fourth of the Intercontinental Rounds, this time over a young Venezuelan side in Madrid.
Other Friday night results saw Bulgaria join Serbia and Montenegro at the top of Pool C on 15 points after the Bulgarians knocked over the Olympic and European champions for the second time in the competition with a comfortable 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-22) win in Varna. Both teams and the Netherlands are still in the hunt for a Finals berth.
The next match this weekend sees Cuba host the Netherlands in another Pool C match at 00:40GMT before an all-important Pool D match between Japan and France takes place at 08:00GMT.
The other feature matches on Saturday sees the Czech Republic take on Greece in Ostrava starting at 12.30GMT and a super power showdown between Brazil and Italy start at 13:00GMT, the same time the rematch between Poland and Russia begins in Katowice.
Go to www.fivb.org and follow the World League link for the full weekend schedule and live scores, instant match reports and individual match statistics, downloadable photos (for media use only); team rosters, star player profiles, coaches profiles, pre-season team news, on-site media contacts and much more.