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for 2003 World League
Sixteen teams in four
pools will play off the Intercontinental Round matches, with
Pools A, B, and C commencing on the weekend of May 23-25, with
Pool D starting one week earlier (May 16-18).
Following the success of the 2002 edition, which concluded for
the final round in Brazil in August, and drawing on elements
of promotion and entertainment also used successfully at the
just concluded 2002 Men's World Championship in Argentina, the
Council ruled that stadium entertainment, venue decoration and
the use of animated mascots would now become a requirement for
the World League.
Pool A: Russia, Poland, Spain, Venezuela
Pool B: Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Germany
Pool C: Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Cuba, China
Pool D: France, Argentina, Greece, Japan
All teams in the pool play against each other, both home and
away, during the Intercontinental Round. Top eight teams
advance to the final round.
The team of the organizing country of the Final Round will be
In case that the team of the organizing country is not among
the 8 qualified teams, the lowest second ranked team of the
Intercontinental Round will be eliminated and replaced by the
organizer. Spain is the candidate country to host the final
May 23-25: Spain vs. Poland; Venezuela vs. Russia
May 30-June 1: Russia vs. Spain; Venezuela vs. Poland
June 6-June 8: Poland vs. Venezuela; Spain vs. Russia
June 13-15: Russia vs. Venezuela; Poland vs. Spain
June 20-22: Poland vs. Russia; Spain vs. Venezuela
June 26-28: Russia vs. Poland; Venezuela vs. Spain
May 23-25: Brazil vs. Germany; Italy vs. Portugal
May 30 June 1: Italy vs. Brazil; Portugal vs. Germany
June 6-8: Portugal vs. Brazil; Germany vs. Italy
June 13-15: Portugal vs. Italy; Germany vs. Brazil
June 20-22: Brazil vs. Italy; Germany vs. Portugal
June 26-28: Brazil vs. Portugal; Italy vs. Germany
May 23-25: Netherlands vs. Yugoslavia; China vs. Cuba
May 30- June 1: Yugoslavia vs. China: Netherlands vs. Cuba
June 6-8: Netherlands vs. China; Cuba vs. Yugoslavia
June 13-15: Yugoslavia vs. Cuba; China vs. Netherlands
June 20-22: Cuba vs. Netherlands; China vs. Yugoslavia
June 26-28: Yugoslavia vs. Netherlands; Cuba vs. China
May 16-18: France vs. Argentina; Greece vs. Japan
May 23-25: France vs. Japan; Greece vs. Argentina
May 30 - June 1: Argentina vs. France; Japan vs. Greece
June 6-8: Argentina vs. Japan; Greece vs. France
June 13-15: France vs. Greece; Japan vs. Argentina
June 20-22: Argentina vs. Greece; Japan vs. France
World League finals:
Tuesday July 8 - Sunday July 13 2003
Russia wins first ever
World League title
Brazil, August 18, 2002 – Russia simply proved too powerful too
often on Sunday morning here in this Brazilian city when they
charged to a 3-1 victory in the finals of the FIVB $15 Million
World League, shutting out the host country and last year’s
title holder in a Festival of Volleyball at the Mineirinho
It was the Russian team’s first ever World League title, the
richest men’s event in the annual FIVB calendar, and follows on
from the Russian women’s team winning the World Grand Prix final
in Hong Kong several weeks ago.
Earlier Yugoslavia won the bronze medal 3-1 (28-26, 29-27,
23-25, 25-21) depriving eight times title winners Italy of a
piece of this year’s World League glory.
Although Brazil were on the court with their Dream Team and were
supported by some 20,500 screaming fans, it was still not enough
to beat the might of the Russians who had crept back into the
semifinals after a rocky performance in the round robin of the
The Russians also cleaned up on the individual awards, winning
everything except the Best Scorer Award that went to Ivan
Miljkovic of Yugoslavia with a total of 61 points. Other awards
went to Pavel Abramov (Best Attacker), Alexi Koulechov (Best
Blocker) and Vadim Khamouttskikh (Best Server) – all from the
Dr. Rubén Acosta, FIVB President, Brazilian dignitaries and
senior members of the international Volleyball Family were in
the stadium for the finals and Dr. Acosta presented the winning
team with their trophy.
The Brazilians, on the court with their super heroes like Giba (Glberto
Godoy Fihlo), started nervously against the powerful Russians
who edged ahead in the opening phase.
But the Russians were in devastating form with Roman Iakovlev
and Alexei Koulechov setting a wall of defense that was often
impossible for even the Brazilian maestros to penetrate. A hug
block by Andrei Egortchev at the 14-minute mark widened the gap
for Russia to 17-13, prompting the nervous Rezende to pep talk
The Brazilian block was ineffective against shots like
Iakovlev’s smash that took to Russians to a five point lead and
three points from the first set victory. Brazil fended off one
set point and drew back to 21 before the Russians closed out
25-21 in 22 minutes.
Russian setter Vadim Khamouttskikh providing excellent service
to his teammates in the second set while the Brazilians slipped
into a costly set of errors.
Brazil took a brief lead at 12-11 and did manage to fight off
one set point before making a mistake that gave the Russians
their second set 25-23.
The Boys from Brazil ran on rejuvenated in the vital fourth set
and set up a slim early lead, but again muscle bulk and deadly
accuracy by the Russians foiled the host team. Rezende
reshuffled his men and the Brazilians took the lead at 20-17.
Two service errors sent Rezende’s blood pressure into the
stratosphere before Brazilians found their way back into the
match taking the third set 25-22. Brazil ran up an early lead in
the fourth, but their renaissance was too little too late and
Russia went on to close out the title.
In their match, Yugoslavia’s warriors put away the
disappointment of their defeat by Brazil in the semis to contest
one of the most closely fought matches of the tournament with
each side chasing down every point.
Yugoslavia started strongly but Italy whittled away at their
lead and drew level at 11-all. Seizing the initiative the always
vigilant Valerio Vermiglio, small but deft, set elegantly to
assist his team to a 2-point lead. Twenty-five minutes into the
set with the sides ties at 23-all. Geric served the set point
for Yugoslavia but Italy’s shot over the net found the sure
hands of Miljkovic who gave his team a 28-26 first set. Italy
edged ahead in the second set at 14-12 but with every point an
individual battle, both sides had to pull all their power,
tricks and finesse out of the bag. Fei and Pasquale Gravina at
the net for Italy countered for 24-24. A great kill by Andrija
Geric gave Yugoslavia set point at 27-26, but Fei was again
ready to save the point, but at the next set point, Miljkovic
put away the winner for 2-0 for Yugoslavia.
Both teams traded the lead in the third set, but at the six
minute mark Yugoslavia was two points ahead. A smash at the net
by Andrea Giani put them back in the match at 11-all. Italy
edged ahead and again Miljkovic struck to equalize at 13-13.
Fei’s attack again put Italy ahead and a service error by Grbic
gave the Italians a cushion of 3 points. Italy had set point on
a Yugoslav attack error and suddenly they were back in the
Yugoslavia put away the final set 25-21 in just over 20 minutes,
defeating the team that has dominated this Tournament in its
13-year history and who have won the World League on eight
The 2003 World League final will be hosted by Madrid, Spain.
Russia advance to final
Brazil, Aug. 17, 2002 - Hosts and titleholders Brazil on
Saturday advanced the finals of the FIVB $15 Million World
League when they defeated Yugoslavia in a tough five-set first
semifinal here in Brazil's third biggest city. They will meet
Russia, who shut Italy out of a chance at their ninth World
League title. Brazil took their match 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-12,
21-25, 18-16) with the kind of Volleyball that has elevated them
to one of the best teams in the world and put them in the box
seat to take their second consecutive title. Russia beat Italy
3-1. "This was a real thriller," said FIVB President
Rubén Acosta, here in Brazil with his wife Malu for the finals.
"At times we thought that the Yugoslavs would win but they
seemed to lose their rhythm and it was not enough to beat the
courage of the Brazilians who were supported by more than 16,000
fans here in the stadium," he said adding, "It was a
great match!" Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende said his
team had showed maturity. "It was a very tough match,"
he said, while super Superstar wing-spiker Giba Giba (Gilberto
Godoy Fihlo) said "We had a lot of ups and downs and now we
are going to study our mistakes before tomorrow's match".
Thousands of euphoric fans streamed into the Mineirinho Stadium
two hours before the whistle for what turned out to be the
biggest Volleyball party so far of this, the richest annual
event on the FIVB calendar. With Brazil now in the final the
people of Belo Horizonte, the "Volleyball Capital of Brazil",
will be out in force for Sunday's final. The stadium, awash with
the Brazilian national colors and throbbing to music, erupted
when Henrique Randow tipped the ball over the net to put Brazil
on the scoreboard, but it was the Yugoslavs, spurred on by the
considerable skills of Goran Vujevic, Dula Mester who went on to
take a 14-11 lead with a ace by Nikola Grbic. Aerial attacks
from the sure hand of Andre Nascimento and a mistake in the
Yugoslavia block leveled the sides at 17-17. Brazil then went
one point up after a high shot by Ivan Miljkovic landed outside
the line and they applied pressure and notched up a three- point
lead. Again Vujevic struck to give the Yugoslavians the lead,
but Giba leveled at 23-23 and set the crowd on fire before Geric
scored the winning shot to give Yugoslav the set at 27-25. The
Boys from Brazil, especially Andre, Giba and Henrique, gave
their team an early lead in the second. Giba and Henrique
combined to block the Yugoslavs to 19-15 and an overhead smash
by Gustavo and an ace by Ricardo put the Brazilians two points
away from equalizing. Nalbert sealed their victory with a
perfect ace for 25-19. The third set belonged to Brazil, who was
unstoppable for a massive 13-point lead at the close. The
Yugoslavs rallied in the fourth when their legendary fighting
spirit kicked in to put them back in the match and force the
thriller tiebreaker that finally fell Brazil's way 18-16. In the
other semifinal, Italy took the opening set 25-23 in their match
against Russia, deploying big guns Hristo Zlatanov and
Alessandro Fei with the finesse of the Vermiglio. Russia, who
scraped into the semifinals when Spain failed against The
Netherlands in the last Pool E match, looked better in the
second set for an early three point lead with setter Vadim
Khamouttskikh combining harmoniously with heavyweight Roman
Iakovlev to support an almost impenetrable block that saw them
charge to 16-10. Russia looked a rejuvenated side in the second
set with a vastly improved block that shut out the Squadra
Azzurri while their coach Andre Anastasi paced like a lion on
the sidelines. Serguei Tetioukhine served for the set and Italy
defended the first set point but not the second, allowing Russia
to equalize with 25-19. The Russians frequently powered home
shots that landed at the feet of skilled players like Samuel
Papi, and even overhead smashes by the usually deadly Zlatanov
were cut down by the Russian defense to allow them to cruise to
a 25-20 third set. By then, Italy looked rattled but a rare
error by Tetioukhine gave them a 2-point lead. The sides traded
points back and forth, leveling at 10-all, but the enormous
reach of Alexei Koulechov was too good too often. Iakovlev gave
his team match point and then blocked to give his side their
place in the finals.
Netherlands wins to allow Russia back in the action
Brazil, Aug 15 – The Netherlands, until now the minnow of the
2002 FIVB $15 Million World League, went out in a blaze of glory
on Thursday in the northern Brazilian city of Recife when they
humbled Spain 3-1 (25-20, 25-27, 25-23,25-18). The Spanish side
simply ran out of legs after their courageous victory over
Russia on Wednesday.
Before Thursday’s match young Dutch side had failed to win a
single set in this tournament.
The surprise result reshuffled the cards and allowed Russia back
into the semifinal action, despite being crushed 3-0, also in
Recife, by titleholders Brazil. Only in the second set did the
Russians show their customary fire, before allowing Brazil to
deliver the final blow, a five-point advantage in the third set
to take the match 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-20). Brazilian hero
Gilberto (Giba) Godoy Fihlo was the top scorer with 15 points.
Brazil now meets Yugoslavia who lost to Italy in an evenly
fought five-setter that finally favored the Squadra Azzurri.
Looking ahead to the semifinals, Brazil’s coach Bernardo Rezente
said he was aware of the “missiles” that Yugoslavia was capable
Italy and Yugoslavia delivered the highlight match of the day.
Yugoslavia started confidently and when they had run up an 8-4
lead, Italian coach Andrea Anastasi took his side off for a pep
Italians Valerio Vermiglio, Zlatanov and Fei had flashes of
brilliance, but an overhead smash by Slobodan Boskan took the
Yugoslavs to 16-12 and they closed out the first set 25-22.
The Italians edged ahead in the second set and a graceful,
well-placed ace by veteran Samuele Papi extended the lead to
8-5. The dual ensued with lofty Hristo Zlatanov and Fei airborne,
agile and deadly for Italy taking the score to 13-11.
Yugoslavia’s block kicked in and they leveled at 17-17 when an
attack by Ivan Miljkovic’s put the Olympic champions back in the
lead. The sides shadowboxed their way through the points, but it
was Italy took the initiative to equalize 1-set all.
Italy’s block proved effective early in the third set and a leap,
twist and slam from Vermiglio took them to 6-4. A rare service
error by Fei allowed Yugoslavia back in at 10-all, but another
by Miljkovic returned service to Italy. The Italians gained
confidence in the block and looked smug at 20-15 and when
Yugoslavia’s Miljkovic’s serving accuracy deserted him, Italian
Coach Anastasi began to relax on the sidelines. Papi delivered a
cross-court kill to give Italy a 25-18 victory and put them back
Yugoslavia broke away with a 5-0 lead early in the third and
maintained the edge to 12-8. Vladimir Grbic left the court with
a twisted ankle but Yugoslavia still won 25-22 to force the
tiebreaker, a thriller in which both sides knew that to lose was
to pit them against Brazil in the first semifinal. Italy took
match point at 14-15 and another at 16-15 when Papi served and
allowed Fei to put away the winner for Italy to face Russia in
In the final match of the day, Poland played France, both freed
from the responsibility of advancement. Enthusiastically
supported by a small knot of fans chanting “Polska! Polska!”
amid a sea of Brazilian enthusiasts, the Poles took the first
set 28-26 and the second 25-23, before cruising to a 3-0 victory
with 25-18 in the closing set of the round robin
rattles the Russian Bear for a win in the tiebreaker
Brazil, August 14 - Spain was elevated to giant killer status on
Wednesday when they tested Russia to the limit in a tiebreaker
that they eventually won 19-17 here in the finals of the FIVB
$15 Million World League 2002. The Spanish team came into the
match outsiders after a 3-1 drubbing at the hands of Brazil on
Tuesday but it did intimidate them against the team that was
considered absolute favorite to win this year's title.
Francisco Hervas, the Spanish coach said his team had played the
match of their lives. They had only beaten Russia once before,
and then at the 1999 World Cup. "This victory is more
important. It shows that Spanish Volleyball is growing and we
can be among the best in the world," Hervas said.
Russia now faces titleholders Brazil in their final round robin
match, and after the Brazilian 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-23) victory
over The Netherlands on Wednesday Brazilian coach Bernardo
Rezende said he thought the Russians were the best. "I have
never seen them this strong," he said. Rezende may have
reconsidered his remarks after the Russians tumbled to Spain in
the northern city of Recife. Spain now meets the luckless and
set-less Dutch in the last round robin match and has an
excellent chance to qualify for the semifinals.
Eight-times World League winners Italy ran out confident to face
Poland with Alessandro Fei and the powerful Hristo Zlatanov
ready for the kill. But with Poitr Gruszka and the 216cm Marcin
Nowak in the middle on the net, the Poles repelled the Italians
in the opening stages, going up 4-points to 14-10 and widening
the gap to 16-11. Meanwhile, their coach, Waldemar Wspanialy,
paced expressionless on the sidelines.
Trailing by six points Italian coach Andrea Anastasi took his
players to task and they went back on the court to trim the lead
to two points when Samuele Papi put away an overhead smash that
left the Poles flatfooted. A quick Polish recovery followed and
they closed out the first set 25-22 to raise eyebrows and catch
the Italians on the run.
The Poles dominated the opening stages of the second set, but
Italy came back strong and left them little room to move, going
on to level 1-1 with a 25-19 victory.
Pasquale Gravina and Fei combined power with finesse to run the
Italians up 3 points at 5-2, in the third set, which they
extended that lead to 11-7 with great support by Valerio
Vermiglio. The Italians looked invincible in the final stages
with a nine-point edge from a delicate ace by Fei, and Vermiglio
and Papi blocking to 19-9.Luigi Mastrangelo was in the
foreground for the Italians in the closing stages, then Papi
closed out for a 2-1 lead.
Early magic by Vermiglio, twisting a shot over the net gave the
Italians a five-point lead, extended to 10 points ahead just
nine minutes into the set. Papi had the honor of the closing
point in 18:44 minutes at 25-15 to allow the Italians to leave
the court to the rapturous yelling of their Brazilian fans.
France met Yugoslavia in the last match of the day and
Yugoslavia wasted no time in surging ahead. Deadly spikes by
Boskan and a perfect impenetrable block immediately gave them a
5-point lead. Luc Marquet gave the French two points and
high-flying Laurent Capet another, but the spirited French were
no match for the might of the Olympic Champions. They won the
first set 25-19, helped by the likes of Nikoa Grbic and Ivan
Miljkovic. But the French had nothing to lose and took the lead
9-8 in the second. The two sides shadowboxed through the points
but Yugoslavia was just too good, too often, closing the match
3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-17) In the third set, France's Philippe
Barca-Cysique was carried off the court with an ankle injury
Italy and Yugoslavia will contest the semifinals while France
plays Poland to see out the tournament.
Brazil takes first honors after shaky start
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, August 13 - Titleholders Brazil made tough work of their opening match in the finals of the FIVB $15 Million World League against upstarts Spain who scraped into the last round finals as second fiddle to Italy, the dominant nation in this blue ribbon annual men´s Volleyball tournament.
Driven by enthusiastic local supporters in the northern city of Recife, they took the first set 25-17, but then stumbled, let their concentration slip and allowed Spain to equalize 1-1 by a margin of four points.
Brazil soared ahead to a four-point margin 16-12. They stretched the score to 19-14 before wrapping up the vital third and went on to wrap up the match in the fourth set. Andre Nascimento put away 19 points for Brazil to be the top scorer of the match.
But in the opening match here in Belo Horizonte, France met titleholders Italy in what the local media are describing as the "Pool of Death". Yugoslavia and Poland are the other teams in the group. The Italians, using talent like Alessandro Fei and Valerio Vermiglio to perfection had a nine point lead in just 12 minutes. Some desperate renaissance shots by the French were insufficient to stop the Squadra Azzurri, who shut them out 25-14 in just 15 minutes.
France was powerless to stop the charge and failed to break through the Italian defense with Gravina and Zlatanov impenetrable on the net. A fine block by Kiefer, followed by a timely ace let the French level at 11-11 and captain Dominique Daquin came on, allowing the French a small lead. The two sides traded points to 19-19, but Italy edged ahead and Daquin served into the net to give the Italians set point in the second. Two points later Fea smashed a shot out of reach and Italy was 2-0.
Efforts by Daquin and Capet were not enough to save the French and Italy wrapped up the final set 25-21.
In other action in Recife, Russia was unshakable against Netherlands with a straight sets 3-0 victory that confirmed that Brazil and Russia are the absolute favorites to advance to the semifinals in the group playing in Recife.
In the final match of the day, Olympic gold medallists met upstart Poland. Zoran Gajic had his heavyweights out in the opening phase with Nikola and Vladimir Grbic and the lofty 206cm Ivan Miljkovic, the tallest in the side, to take a four point lead in the first five minutes.
Nikola Grbic and Andrija Geric were fearless on the net and helped expand the Yugoslav lead to 16-7. In just 15 minutes the Yugoslav blues were 10 points up and three from taking the first set. Poland rallied with five points with Murek making a large contribution, before libero Rafal Musielak failed to pick up the winning Yugoslav point, giving them a 25-20 head start.
Poland, the only undefeated team at home in the preliminary rounds, settled quickly into the second set and took the lead briefly at 10-9 and Marcin Novak's 215cm height at the net was difficult to get past. A deft overhead shot by Slobodan Boskan leveled the score at 15-15 and put Yugoslavia back in contention. A serve into the net by Robert Prygiel gave Yugoslav a 2-point lead to 20-18 and they went on to go 2-sets up.
The sting then went out of Poland's attack and they retreated, defeated in straight sets when Yugoslavia took the final with an impressive 25-13.
World's elite Volleyball teams
gather for finals showdown
Brazil, August 12 - The world's elite men's Volleyball teams
gathered here Monday ahead of the finals of the FIVB $15 million
World League 2002, some still weary from six weeks of
Intercontinental Rounds and all with expectations of a tough
showdown over the next days.
Netherlands, Russia, Spain and hosts Brazil in Pool E of the
Final Round, while Olympic Champions Yugoslavia, France, Italy
and Poland play off in Pool F here in Belo Horizonte.
Interest in the opening match is intense here, when hometown
favorites Brazil meet Spain in their opening match in Recife.
Spain, at No. 14, is the lowest ranked team according to the
FIVB World Rankings as at July 15 2002 but Spanish coach
Francisco Hervas said he is happy that his side had qualified
for the finals for the first time, a sign he said that the team
is improving. Raphael Pascual, the best Spanish player is not
with the team. " He is a great player, but we need him in a
good shape for the world championship," Rascual said.
Russia and Brazil start as favorites in their pool and Russia's
assistant coach, Boris Kolcins is confident. " In the last
two months, we practice every day, twice a day, so we don' t
have any problems. We think we can play well and we are sure
that we'll leave Brazil with a great result," he said.
The Netherlands, even with stars like Richard Schuil and Reinder
Nummerdor, and Spain will be hard pressed to push past the two
giants. " Our hopes are not very high for this tournament,
but we are proud to be here, said Bert Goedkoop, coach of the
Netherlands, who added he expected all their matches would be
tough for the young team.
Brazilian color aside, it could be Pool F that is the real
thriller with Italy going for their ninth League title. They
face Pool winners France in their opening match but French
middle blocker Dominique Daquin said he was quietly confident.
"We have worked hard and we deserve to be here," he
said. "I am confident we will advance."
The Poles, unbeaten in their six matches at home, come with few
expectations. "Italy will be hard to beat with their great
World League tradition, but for me the Yugoslavs are the
favorites," said coach Waldemar Wspanialy.
Yugoslav coach Zoran Gajic is taking the opposite tack. "We
are going through a tough situation. There has been a lot of
traveling and a lot of the matches," he said.
The decision in this group could go down to the wire when
Yugoslavia meets Italy on Thursday when their playmaker Valerio
Vermiglio and Alessandro Fei face the powerful Yugoslavs like
Ivan Miljkovic and teammates. Squadra Azzurri coach Andrea
Anastasi, facing his personal fourth World League and with two
titles to his credit, also claimed theirs was the toughest
What is guaranteed is action and atmosphere in this country
where major tournaments have attracted as many as 26,000
spectators. The "Boys from Brazil" will find the
stands packed and players like the much-adored "Giba"
(Gilberto Godoy Fihlo), the 25-year-old wing spiker, will draw
strength from their enthusiastic support. What remains to be
seen is this it will be enough to give Brazil their third, and
second consecutive World League title.
Coach Bernardo Rezende is aware that his team needs to be
"It's good to play in our country, but it' s very
dangerous. There is a lot of thing that can distract the players
and I want them to think only about Volleyball," he said.
All tickets booked for Brazil
Japan pulled off its sole victory in the FIVB $15 Million World League Intercontinental round on Sunday to sever Greece's slim chance of taking the last ticket to the finals in Brazil of this, Volleyball's richest annual competition for men. Instead, Yugoslavia, now undisputed second in Pool D, even with one match to go against Pool D leader France on Sunday night, takes the final place, while Japan and Greece are out.
Hosts Brazil, Poland, Italy, Spain, Russia, Netherlands, France and Yugoslavia are the eight team to contest the final round in the Brazilian cities of Recife and Belo Horizonte (Aug 13-18). The two groupings for the two cities will be announced from FIVB headquarters on Monday.
Teams went into the final round of this six-weekend competition with most of the decisions already made. Some teams also chose to rest up their key players ahead of the finals, knowing that the outcome of their final matches would not alter the results.
In Pool A, Brazil beat traditional South American rival Argentina 3-2 and 3-0 to consolidate their leadership, while Poland, the other qualifier scored two victories over Portugal to be the only team undefeated at home.
Italy, who has won eight of the 12 World League titles so far contested, won over Spain 3-1 in Pool B on Friday and their rematch on Sunday night has no effect on the outcome. China and luckless Venezuela, the only team not to win a match so far in the preliminaries meet on Sunday night in Venezuela, but then exit the competition.
In Pool C Netherlands went to Russia without ace Richard Schuil and Guido Gortzen and setter Nico Freriks also rested. Instead young players Joppe Paulides, Robert Horstink and Joram Maan all delivered fine performances that drew praise from Russian coach Guennade Chipouline. Russia won both matches 3-0, but Chipouline graced the visitors with a compliment saying: "It was a match of equal rivals." In this group, Germany and Cuba also round up their World League appearances.
Yugoslavia, who move closer to qualifying for last finals berth
in $15 Million World League
Yugoslavia pushed France to the limit in a challenging five-setter on Friday night that finally went the way of the visitors to Podgorica, Yugoslavia 3-2 (20-25, 25-23,25-21, 19-25, 15-11) in front of a packed sports hall throwing their weight behind the home team.
With Yugoslavia battling for a World League finals berth in Brazil, there was no ground given, despite temperatures in the hall of more than 30 degrees C and heavy humidity that often trapped the players in lapses of concentration.
France, as Pool D leaders had already advanced and this weekend decides the remaining berth - between Olympic Champions Yugoslavia and their classic Balkan rivals Greece, who have lifted their game immensely in the last rounds.
But even before the final match of the Intercontinental round on Sunday, Yugoslavia seems certain of taking the last place, even if Greece win their second match against Japan. The teams will then be level on 19 points and advancement will be on superior set average.
In other pool action, Poland beat Portugal and Brazil beat Argentina in Pool A, but both winning teams are already through. In Pool B, Italy and Spain are already in the final rounds, with China and Venezuela out of the race. Likewise, from Pool C Russia and Netherlands are also contesting a dead rubber this weekend with both teams through, while German and Cuba are eliminated.
last finals berth
in last Intercontinental Round
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 30, 2002 – The FIVB $15 Million
World League goes down to the wire this weekend in the sixth and
last Intercontinental Round with traditional Balkan rivals
Yugoslavia and Greece facing a battle of attrition in Pool D for
the final berth.
France tops the Pool with Yugoslavia second and Greece close
behind and while France should finish Pool leader, Yugoslavia
must be wary of Greece, which has been enjoying continually
improving form as the tournament progresses. Greece goes to
Japan, which like Venezuela, has failed to win any of their 10
matches so far, while Yugoslavia is home to France, who beat
them 3-0, 3-1 in the first round.
Meanwhile Italy and Spain have already qualified at the top of
Pool B, with China and Venezuela chanceless going into the last
Russia, with only one loss so far, hosts Netherlands and both
are already through to the final. Some of the Dutch players have
opted to miss the trip. The tournament’s top scorer Richard
Schuil will stay home to recover from a small injury. Guido
Gortzen, who has been facing a heavy club program for Italian
champion Modena will rest up ahead of the finals and setter Nico
Freriks is out with travel-related stomach problems. The three
will be replaced by third setter Erik Siebers and attackers
Dennis van der Veen and Wytze Kooistra will go instead to Russia.
Germany and the young an inexperienced Cuban side have exited
now the tournament.
The tournament, the richest for men’s Volleyball, pits 16 of the
world’s top national teams against each other in the
Intercontinental Rounds, with eight teams advancing to the
finals, this year in Brazil, in the cities of Recife and Belo
Horizonte. Brazil, as finals host, qualifies automatically, but
still tops Pool A going into the last round. Poland, the other
qualifier in the group, has a theoretical chance to top the
table this weekend when they meet Portugal at home.
Brazil is also the defending titleholder, but Italy has won more
titles than any other nation in the history of the competition.
They have won eight from 12 World League titles since 1990.
Friday, August 2
Russia vs. Netherlands (Pool C), Belgorod, GMT 1400, Local 1800
Poland vs. Portugal (Pool A), Worclaw, GMT 1700, Local 1900
Venezuela vs. China (Pool B), Barquisimeto, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Podgorica, GMT 1815, Local 2015
Italy vs. Spain (Pool B), Catania, GMT 1830, Local 2030
Argentina vs. Brazil (Pool A), Rosario, GMT 0000, Local 2100
Saturday, August 3
Germany vs. Cuba (Pool C), Leipzig, GMT 1300, Local 1500
Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0600, Local 1500
Poland vs. Portugal (Pool A), Worclaw, GMT 1300, Local 1500
Argentina vs. Brazil, Rosario (Pool A), GMT 2100, Local 1800
Russia vs. Netherlands (Pool C), Belgorod, GMT 1400, Local 1800
Sunday, August 4
Germany vs. Cuba (Pool C), Leipzig, GMT 0900, Local 1100
Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0500, Local 1400
Venezuela vs. China (Pool B), Cabimas, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Novi Sad, GMT 1815, Local 2015
Italy vs. Spain (Pool B), Caserta, GMT 1830, Local 2030
• Friday: Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Podgorica, GMT 1815,
• Saturday: Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0600, Local
• Sunday: Japan vs. Greece (Pool D), Toyama, GMT 0500, Local
• Sunday: Yugoslavia vs. France (Pool D), Novi Sad, GMT 1815,
Million World League 2002:
Spain and France ahead on points after Round 5
elite men's Volleyball teams - Italy, Russia, Spain and
France - have all surfaced to mount a challenge to FIVB
World League titleholders Brazil as Intercontinental Round
Five draws to a close this weekend. Italy and Russia lead
their pools with 19 points, France and Spain have 18 and
Brazil, Pool A leader, has 17 points from seven matches,
they exhibited their vulnerability with weekend when they
were twice thrashed this weekend by upstart Poland in front
of more than 11,000 euphoric fans in Katowice. "We did not
make any camouflage here in Katowice, at the moment this is
the best we can play, but I still hope we will improve to
reach our top disposition for the World League Finals and
World Championships," Brazil's head coach Bernardo Rezende
reflected. But it is in the other pools that action is fast
and furious. Pool B is a battle of attrition between Italy,
who has claimed the title more than any other nation in the
League's 13-year history, and Spain. The Italians crushed
Spain 3-0 on Friday for their second only defeat in the
series, but had to struggle for their 3-1 return match on
Saturday. Next weekend the Spaniards must travel to Italy to
face the giant again in their away tie, knowing they are
separated by just one point. Russia twice beat Germany this
weekend to continue to lead Pool C while Netherlands
delivered 3-1 and 3-2 messages to the youthful Cuban side,
giving ace Dutch player Richard Schuil the chance to surge
ahead on the Best Scorer's table, which he now leads with
197 from Cuban star Tomŕs Aldazabal, who has 179 for second
place. Aldazabal was rested for part of the match in the
Cuban capital. The Dutch team meets Russia at home next
weekend, but do so confident of their ticket to the finals
in Brazil the following week.