Milan, Italy, Oct 2, 2010 – As expected Serbia beat Mexico in straight sets (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) in the first ever match in an FIVB competition between the two nations to finish top of Pool H and leave Cuba second in the pool, subsequently confirming both teams a place in the third round. The defeat left Mexico at the bottom of the group but with smiles on their faces as they reflected on a wonderful journey through the FIVB Men’s World Championship Italy 2010.
Serbia, ranked 4th in the world, will now travel to Florence for the third round where they will face the winner of Pool M and the second-placed team in Pool I.
FIVB Men's World Championship 2010 official page
Serbia’s super-scorer Ivan Miljkovic top-scored with 19 points while Nikola Kovacevic supported admirably with 12, including three blocks. Mexico tried to defend themselves as well as they could but the difference between the two sides was too evident - 57 points against 43 and eight blocks versus two in favour of Serbia.
Miljkovic put in a stellar performance from the very beginning, helping Serbia take a quick 5-1 lead. Despite the loud support by Mexican fans there was no stopping Serbia, resulting in the 2010 World League bronze medallists boasting an 8-4 lead by the first Technical Time Out (TTO). Mexico tried hard to close the gap thanks to a winning spike by Carlos Guerra and a fist-pumping block from Gustavo Meyer but Kovacevic slammed a winner to snuff out any challenge. Mexico did manage to hold on thanks to Guerra’s spiking but Miljkovic was always on hand to keep Serbia’s lead intact. Serbia led 16-11 at the second TTO but Mexico coach Jorge Lopez gave a spine-tingling team talk which sparked a miraculous fightback from the world No. 26 as Guerra’s one-handed block closed the gap to one point at 18-17. Samuel Cordova levelled the scores at 19-19 thanks to a beautiful tip but this period of euphoria was brief as a block from Serbia captain Nikola Grbic put Serbia ahead 22-20 before Meyer sent an attack too long to say goodbye to the set.
A long serve by Pedro Rangel could have spoilt the mood in the Mexican camp from the word go in the second set, but thanks to the lack of further errors it was not until the fourth and fifth points (long serve and attack respectively) that the road was left wide open for Serbia, who led 8-6 at the first TTO. Mexico’s struggle to close the gap seemed doomed to fail, while Serbia continued their winning streak also thanks to a couple of key points from Miljkovic, who kept Serbia solidly in the lead, 16-10 by the second TTO. The margin was now too wide to narrow for the underdogs as Serbia stubbornly ploughed ahead. Guerra did what he could from the backline but finally Kovacevic closed off the set on Serbia’s third attempt.
Miljkovic’s scoring prowess was on display right from the start of the third set until Guerra spiked from the back court to help narrow the margin. Contreras contributed a point at 6-4 but Serbia’s lead didn’t falter and they held an 8-6 lead at the first TTO. Mexico however did go close for only the second time in the match to leading when they drew level at 8-8 (the previous being 6-6 in the second set) but it was not destined to be as Serbia soon went back in front and led at the second TTO 16-12. By this stage Serbia’s entire subs bench got a run as they ran out easy winners to spark joyous scenes on both sides of the net.