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World League 2002 - Previews & Reviews
WRAP UP
Upsets by Poland and Portugal in Intercontinental Round Three

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 14 - Poland and Portugal were the giant killers in Intercontinental Round 3 of the $15 Million World League this weekend by each stealing a match in their ties with South American giants Brazil and Argentina.
Poland whipped title-holder Brazil 3-0 on Friday then drove the second match to a tense 5-setter on Saturday, before losing in the tiebreaker. Portugal's 3-1 glory against visiting Argentina, hosts of the men's World championship (Sept 28-Oct 15), came on Saturday. They meet their adversary again later on Sunday night and if they are able to repeat their success it will drag them off the bottom of the Pool a table. 
Meanwhile, Spain and Italy won their first matches against China and Venezuela to remain unbeaten in this year's Intercontinental rounds. Both sides will finish their ties later Sunday evening. Italy did have to overcome a shaky start against China, who stole the first set, but regrouped to power through the rest of the match in the style that has made them the dominating force in the World League over the past decade. The outcome of their later matches will decide which team - Spain or Italy, will top the Pool B.
In Pool C action, Russia scored twice over the Netherlands and Cuba dismissed Germany in their matches, to give Russia the edge on the table with five victories and one loss so far in the competition. Cuba's two wins were a confidence-booster after four surprise defeats in the first two rounds.
Meanwhile France continues its charge through the competition with a 3-2, 2 hours 20 minutes victory over hosts Greece, which saw some great volleyball as the sides traded points right up until the final crunch. Their return match Sunday could be another thriller, as Greece was out in force on Friday night with an array of withering shots that kept the French and the crowd on their toes.
Also in Pool C, Olympic Champions Yugoslavia dismissed Japan 3-0, who went down for their fifth consecutive loss, and will meet them again later Sunday.
World League is played over six consecutive weekends, this year culminating in the final round in Brazil (Aug 13-18)

PREVIEW
France, Italy, Spain and Brazil unbeaten in Intercontinental rounds

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 10 - Big Guns of Volleyball Brazil, Spain, Italy and France go to this week's third Intercontinental Round of the $15 Million FIVB World League tournament unbeaten, while Netherlands, with three victories from four matches tops the remaining pool.
Titleholders Brazil could have an easy round in the third week, meeting visitors Poland who have just one victory to their credit. Brazil was the only team in last year's League who coasted through to the final round undefeated.
Brazil's archrival Argentina, also in Pool A, could also coast through against Portugal, now at the bottom of the table on a lower points ratio.
Pool B is a battle of attrition between Spain and Italy sharing the credits. Italy, the longtime dominator of the League who lost to Brazil in last year's final, will have the power of their enthusiastic supporters behind them at home this weekend against China. In the other tie, Spain travels to Venezuela this weekend.
Netherlands surprised last weekend with two victories over powerhouse Cuba in Pool C, thanks to some fine support from Dutch captain Reinder Nummerdor and top defending by Joost Kooistra. They now face the formidable Russia, who despite their tough reputation still only split their tie with upstarts Germany last weekend. Meanwhile Germany will have the chance to make a name for themselves away to Cuba this weekend. The giants from the Caribbean will be trying to be more focused, playing back in their comfort zone. Hopefully Aldazabal, the tournament's leading scorer, will be able to power home a few more points for his team. 
High-flying France, with four straight wins so far thanks to smooth and coordinated teamwork, is away to Greece, pumped with confidence after their 3-2 victory last weekend over Olympic Champions Yugoslavia.
In the past 12 seasons, the World League has distributed a staggering $76 million in prize money, with Italy taking the lion's share of $11.5 million. The purse has grown from a mere one million dollars in 1990, when the competition first started, an indication of the growing importance of this annual event.