Rome, Italy, October 8, 2010 – Olympic champions USA will meet Russia in the play-off for fifth place after they both won their FIVB Men's World Championship semifinals in Modena on Friday against Germany and Bulgaria respectively. USA beat Germany 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-23) while Russia made sure of avoiding their worst finish in an FIVB tournament (they have never finished lower than seventh), by beating Bulgaria 3-1 (25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23). In the semifinals for positions 9-12, Argentina beat Spain 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 26-24) and the Czech Republic beat France 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16).
Russia will now play USA at 21:00 (local time) on Saturday in Modena preceded by Bulgaria's match against Germany for positions 7-8 at 17:00. In Florence, Argentina will play the Czech Republic in the playoff for positions 9-10 at 21:00 while Spain will take on France for positions 11-12.
Semifinals for 5th-8th place in Modena
Russia beat Bulgaria 3-1 (25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23)
World No2 Russia advanced to the match for fifth place following an impressive victory over the seventh-placed Bulgarians thanks to a 10-6 advantage in aces while also edging their opponents 8-6 in blocks. Both teams began with their best starting six but it was Russia celebrating at the end after recording their 41st victory against Bulgaria in 51 matches. The towering Dmitriy Muserskiy finished with 19 points for Russia including six aces and three blocks, while Maxim Mikhaylov also contributed 19 tallies with three blocks. Yury Berezhko added 13. Bulgaria's Vladimir Nikolov and Matey Kaziyski compiled 21 and 20 points respectively with Nikolov producing four service winners. "This was a very difficult match for both teams," Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli said. "Determination was the key. The match was very close and in the second set we won with the serves of Muserskiy. In the fourth, (Evgeny) Sivozhelez came in from the bench and changed our game for good. I am happy with the result and I hope we can play a little bit better in tomorrow's match."
USA beat Germany 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-23)
World No3 USA literally blocked the way to victory against Germany for their ninth win in 14 matches against the 11th-ranked Europeans with an impressive 15-6 advantage in points won at the net. The winners also dominated 4-0 in the service category. Clayton Stanley and Paul Lotman scored 14 and 12 points respectively for USA and each compiled three blocks. Jochen Schops, on his 27th birthday, had a match-high 18 points for Germany while Robert Kromm added 15. Germany have finished ninth in three of their last four World Championships – 1978, 1994 and 2006, while they were 12th in 1982 – and are already guaranteed their best finish since 1974 when they were fourth. The same applies for USA who have finished 10th and ninth twice in 2006, 2002 and 1998 preceded by a bronze medal in 1994. "We had the target of winning the match," USA captain Reid Priddy said. "It was a good game for our young players like our setter Jonathan Winder and our attacker Paul Lotman. I am very happy we came out with the win." Germany captain Bjorn Andrae said: "We didn't play cleverly enough to win and didn't close the third set when we had a four-point lead. They played very well in blocking and attacking and had control of the game. It was not our best game."
Semifinals for 9th-12th place in Florence
Argentina beat Spain 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 26-24)
Argentina served up a spectacular four-set victory at the Nelson Mandela Forum to break a five-game losing streak against Spain and advance to the finals of the 9-12 positions. Javier Weber's team were largely in control throughout thanks to their superiority in both attack and receiving. Spain lacked a finishing touch as the South Americans achieved only their fifth win in 12 matches against their European counterparts. Facundo Conte led the scoring for Argentina with 17 points, followed by Gustavo Scholtis with 13 points. The tournament's top scorer, Spain's Iban Perez, was top scorer in the match with 25 points, having converted 60 per cent of his attacks. Eight of Perez's teammates scored at least two points in the match but Argentina gained 29 points on Spain errors and held a 9-5 advantage in blocks. "For us winning tonight was very important," Argentina coach Weber said. "There were many mistakes from both sides and it was not a beautiful win for this reason. The level of the match was sometimes high, sometimes low, but for us winning was the most important thing." Spain's Argentinian coach Julio Velasco said: "We were not concentrated enough during the match and that was one of the main problems. Tomorrow it will be difficult as well to find concentration again. For me it's always difficult playing against Argentina, above all when it's the moment of the national anthems. It's the moment of memories for me. I don't like playing against Argentina and Italy for this reason, but this is my job now."
Czech Republic beat France 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16).
The Czech Republic reversed their first-round five-set loss to France and broke a four-game losing streak against Les Tricolores with a convincing straight-sets win – their 16th in 26 matches against the world No12 – to book themselves a playoff for positions 9-10 in Florence. Oliver Kieffer and his teammates failed to find top form and lacked a finishing touch against a Czech side ranked 36 in the world – consigning themselves to a playoff for positions 11-12, which represents their worst finish since 1982 when they ended up in 16th. Peter Platenik and Jan Stokr led the Czechs' scoring with 17 points, while Jiri Popelka added 16. Nicolas Marechal was top scorer for France with 12 points. The Czechs converted 50 of 88 attack attempts for a 56.8 per cent ratio while holding a dominating 50-29 advantage in attack points and a 7-5 edge in blocks. "I asked my players to play well, but our actual situation is not easy," France coach Philippe Blain said. "We had difficulties in attacking the ball and we couldn't win the match. We've had difficulties throughout this competition but we will try to keep focused for tomorrow."
Positions 1-4 semifinals on Saturday
A Europe v Americas battle will unfold on Saturday when two-times defending champions Brazil play Italy and 1998 bronze medallists Cuba take on Serbia in two fascinating semifinals at the Palalottomatica in Rome. Three teams – Brazil, Serbia and Cuba – finished in the top four of the 2010 World League. In the first semifinal, Serbia, 1998 silver medallists and ranked fourth in the world, will play world No8 and three-time medallists (one silver and two bronze) Cuba. Serbia and Cuba are yet to win the title. Three of the four semifinalists finished in the top five in 2006 with Brazil taking the title while Serbia finished fourth and Italy fifth. Cuba finished 15th. The first semifinal sees a repeat of the second-round encounter which Serbia won 3-1 (16-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-19) on September 30. It is also a repeat of the bronze medal play-off at the 2010 World League which Serbia also won 3-2 (28-30, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-12). Serbia in fact have won the last two 'finals' against Cuba winning the bronze medal play-off and the 2009 World League semifinal. Overall Serbia lead the head-to-head match-up with 16 wins from 23 matches including eight of the last 10.
Two of the most successful sides in the history of the World Championship and the winners of the last five world titles will meet in the second semifinal in Rome with Brazil having won the last two titles and a silver medal while world No5 Italy are three-time champions from 1990-1998 while picking up second place in 1978. It is a dream clash with the undefeated home side against the world No1. Brazil have won their last 11 meetings with Italy dating back to the 2003 World League including the 2006 World Championship, 2004
Match Schedule - Oct 9 (Finals & Semifinals)
Oct. 9 Pool T (Modena) 7-8 Playoff: Bulgaria-Germany 17:00. 5-6 Playoff: Russia-USA 21:00
Oct. 9 Pool U (Florence) 11-12 Playoff: France-Spain 17:00. 9-10 Playoff: Argentina-Czech Republic 21:00.
Oct. 9 Pool S (Rome – Semifinals for positions 1-4): Serbia-Cuba 17:00. Italy-Brazil 21:15
Highest Scorers By Day
Day 1 (1st Rd): 28 points by Antonin Rouzier (FRA) in France’s 3-2 win over the Czech Republic in Turin
Day 2 (1st Rd): 27 points by Maxim Mikhaylov (RUS) in Russia’s 3-1 win over Australia in Modena
Day 3 (1st Rd): 28 points by Fernando Hernandez (CUB) in Cuba’s 3-2 win over Brazil in Verona
Day 4 (2nd Rd): 24 points by Gyrgy Grozer (GER) in Germany’s 3-0 win over Puerto Rico in Catania
Day 5 (2nd Rd): 30 points by Iban Perez (ESP) in Spain’s 3-2 win over Russia in Catania
Day 6 (2nd Rd): 23 points by Ahmed Abdelhay (EGY) in Egypt’s win against Spain in Catania
Day 7 (3rd Rd): 25 points by Murilo (BRA) in Brazil’s win over the Czech Republic in Rome
Day 8 (3rd Rd): 26 points by Ivan Miljkovic (SRB) in Serbia’s win over Russia in Florence
Day 9 (3rd Rd): 28 points by Vladimir Nikolov (BUL) in Cuba’s win over Bulgaria in Florence
Day 10 (Semifinals): 26 points by Iban Perez (ESP) in Argentina’s win over Spain in Florence
Highest Set Score
34-32 (EGY v JPN in Pool A) (CUB v BRA in Pool B) Both matches played on September 27.
Highest Scoring Matches
233 (BUL v CUB in 3rd Round) 2-3 (25-22, 23-25, 28-26, 28-30, 11-15) played on October 6 in Florence
231 (FRA v BUL in 1st Round) 3-2 (25-22, 23-25, 25-17, 28-30, 19-17) played on September 26 in Turin
230 (CUB v BRA in 1st Round) 3-2 (34-32, 18-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12) played on September 27 in Verona
228 (JPN v EGY in 1st Round) 3-2 (32-34. 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 15-13) played on September 27 in Milan
213 (POL v GER in 1st Round) 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13) played on September 26 in Trieste
Tournament Top Scorers
152 Iban Perez (ESP)
143 Vladimir Nikolov (BUL)
142 Maxim Mikhaylov (RUS)
141 Clayton Stanley (USA)
140 Facundo Conte (ARG)
Jochen Schops (GER) turns 27 on Oct 8
David Konecny (CZE) turns 28 on Oct 10
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