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FIVB $15 million World League Finals
Brazil number one after World League triumph
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 14, 2003 - 2003 World League title holders Brazil have jumped to the top of the FIVB World Rankings following their sensational tiebreaker victory over Serbia and Montenegro in the World League final in Madrid, Spain on Sunday. Brazil, who also won the World Championship in Argentina last year, moved from second to first spot on the FIVB World Rankings after their 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 31-29) win to replace 2002 World league champions Russia, who now occupy the third ranking following their seventh place finish in Madrid. World League silver medallists Serbia and Montenegro move up one spot to second while bronze medallists Italy round out the top four. More Full ranking list Pic: Brazil celebrate their World League title on Sunday

Brazil edges Serbia and Montenegro in the tightest of finals tiebreakers

Madrid, July 13, 2003 - Brazil brought the carnival to town on Sunday when they met Serbia and Montenegro to fight for the coveted title of the FIVB $15 million World League but the result went down to the wire - and the tiebreaker - in what turned out to be a superb display of the modern game that really finished with two superb winners. Brazil took the title 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 31-29 in just seven minutes shy of two hours. It was however a match that will stand alone in the history of World League finals as a truly great contest between the sport's poets (Brazil) and its warriors (Serbia and Montenegro). More  Spanish German French Match Stats
Pic: A ticker tape celebration for Brazil

Skills Award
Madrid, July 13, 2003 - Players to take excellence awards for volleyball skills at the conclusion of the 14th edition of the FIVB $15 million World League final here in the Spanish capital were:
Top scorer: Ivan Miljkovic, Serbia and Montenegro
Top spiker: Martin Lebl, Czech Republic
Top blocker: Andrija Geric, Serbia and Montenegro
Top server: Andrija Geric, Serbia and Montenegro
Points for these awards are calculated for matches from the semifinals onward.

Top scorer Ivan Miljkovic

Final: Brazil beat Serbia and Montenegro 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 31-29)
Bronze medal match: Italy  beat Czech Republic 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-19)              Top spiker: Martin Lebl
What they said after the World League final
Spanish German

“This was a fantastic match, maybe the best in volleyball history. It is not every day that we see such a match and it was a beautiful victory. I think for our sport and for the public, it was fantastic,”
Brazil’s captain, Nalbert Bitencourt.

“Sometimes in such a tiebreak maybe there should be a point where we put up our hands and declare both teams the winner. But sport is not like that and nevertheless I want to say that Serbia and Montenegro are great champions. We started well and all through the match, we continued to believe. Volleyball is always looking for stars, but if I had to name the star of the Serbia and Montenegro team, there are too many. For my team there were nine stars, all the players on the court and we should never forget that volleyball is a team sport,” Brazil’s coach Bernardo Rezende.

“It is difficult to talk about a match like this, because no-one is really conscious about what really happened. We will have to wait and watch the video. What I do have to say is that while I am disappointed that we lost, I am also satisfied with the way we played,”
Serbia and Montenegro’s captain, Nikola Grbic.

We showed that this was a final between the two best teams in the world. It is difficult to say what made the difference. It was the best ever result for us in the World League,”
Veselin Vukovic, coach of Serbia and

Italy takes bronze in win over Czech Republic
Madrid, July 13, 2003 - Volleyball's 'Old World' triumphed over the sport's 'New World' on Sunday when eight-time World League winners Italy defeated debutants Czech Republic in the match for bronze at the FIVB $15 million World League finals. Italy, the most successful ever World league team, came from behind to win the match 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 25-19). "I think the Czech Republic is the real revelation of this year's World League," praised Italian coach Gian Paolo Montali. "But we were very concentrated on this match which was very important for our players as we rebuild the Italian team. It is not the most important medal here, but we wanted to be on the podium and this is a starting point from which we can grow with this new group," he said of his own team. More Spanish German Match Stats Pic: Italian captain Andrea Giani spikes into the Czech defense

Brazil advances to final after straight sets win over Czech Republic
Madrid, July 12, 2003 - If volleyball was an opera, it fell to Brazil on Saturday to sing the leading aria as they faced newcomers Czech Republic in the second semifinal of the FIVB $15 million World League, the elite annual men's competition. And with a swift straight sets (25-12, 25-20, 25-18) victory to Brazil, all that stands between them and the World League title is to sing the encore against finalists and Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro on Sunday. "We played very well in defense and tactics and this was what made the difference," said Brazilian captain Nalbert Bitencourt. The Czech captain Ivo Dubs agreed. "There was only one team on the court today. We were unable to find the key to unlock their defense and we lost to the best team in the world," he said.  More Match Stats Spanish German French Pic: Brazil are through to the World League Finals

Serbia & Montenegro whitewash Italy in semis
Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2003 - Serbia and Montenegro delivered a lesson in volleyball to Italy on Saturday when they won the first semifinal of the FIVB $15 million World League in straight sets 3-0 (26-24, 25-22, 25-16) to earn their first ever place in the final of this elite annual men's volleyball competition. It was the sixth win for Serbia and Montenegro against their geographic neighbors Italy from 13 World League clashes since the competition began 14 years ago. For Serbia and Montenegro, the Grbic brothers Nikola and Vladimir (Vanja), arguably the most famous siblings in the sport, combined in a dazzling display of tactical volleyball and together with their teammates, contrived to both outfox and outplay the Squadra Azzura. More German Spanish French Match Stats
Pic: Serbia and Montenegro celebrate reaching the final

Star studded competition enters final phase
Madrid, July 11, 2003 - The 14th edition of the FIVB $15 million World League moves into the semifinals on Saturday when Serbia and Montenegro meet Italy, while World Champions Brazil play debutants the Czech Republic to decide who will contest Sunday's final of this elite annual men's volleyball competition. Thursday was a decisive day for the event with titleholders Russia rubbed out by a spirited Bulgaria who were playing for their honor and the smallest mathematical chance of advancement to the final four and Spain going down, but in a blaze of glory, to the Czech Republic. It was a sad occasion for Spain's captain Rafael "Rafa" Pascual, a player of unique ability who had inspired his teammates and who finished equal second top scorer in the contest for the final four by hammering home 50 points. More German Spanish Pic: Spain's captain Rafa Pascual on the cover of a special color supplement on the World League and the Spanish national team, produced by Spain's mass circulation sports newspaper 'Marca'

What they said before the semifinals
I have no preferences for rivals for the semifinals. Brazil and Italy are very strong teams, probably two of the best teams in the world and the games are going to be equally difficult. I think we can make it to the big Final. Both the semifinal and final are going to be very difficult, but I think we can make it”. Veselin Vukovic, coach of Serbia and Montenegro who meet Italy on Saturday in the first semifinal.

“Every game is a completely different story; we don’t know what might happen on Saturday. The only thing we have to think of is to show all our skills, do our best and try to go game by game”. Bernardo Rezende coach of Brazil

“The semifinal is open because every game starts with 0-0, but we know that Brazil is the best team in the world and it is very difficult to play against them. It is going to be very hard, but we should go into the match thinking that we can beat them.” Czech captain Ivo Dubs.

Czech Republic spoils Spain’s party and advances to final four  
Madrid, July 10, 2003 – The Czech Republic pulled off a 3-1 win against hosts Spain at the FIVB $15 million World League finals here on Thursday to set themselves up to face Brazil in the semifinals on Saturday. Earlier Brazil waltzed through their match with Italy 3-1 and Italy now plays Serbia and Montenegro in the second semifinal encounter.“This was a very hard game for us both mentally and physically but we gave our maximum,” said Czech captain Ivo Dubs. Spain, running on high octane and spurred on by a bullfighting ring packed with aficionados dominated the early stages, even though they were several hands smaller than the Czechs, the debutants of the 14th edition of this elite annual competition. more Pic: Jakub Novotny and Ivo Dubs celebrate the Czech victory.

Brazil defeats Italy 3-1 to top table
Madrid, July 10, 2003 - Brazil waltzed through their match with Italy on Thursday evening here in this converted bullfighting ring in the Spanish capital to set themselves up as favorites for the FIVB $15 million World League title. The Green and Golds blazed their way through the match 3-1 (31-29, 25-21, 17-25, 25-23) to finish top of their table and set themselves up for a battle with either hosts Spain or the Czech Republic in the final four. Spain goes into its final match with hopes of a semifinal place but will have a tough battle with the Czech Republic. Italy will now meet Serbia and Montenegro in the second final after the European and Olympic champions topped Pool E following their win over Greece earlier on Thursday.  More Match Stats Standings
Pic: Celebration time for Brazil

Serbia & Montenegro claim victory to top Pool E
Madrid, July 10, 2003 - Traditional rivals Serbia and Montenegro and Greece faced off on Thursday in their final match of the preliminaries of the FIVB $15 million World League with Serbia and Montenegro claiming a 3-1 (26-24, 25-15, 15-25, 25-21) win against Greece to top their Pool E and guarantee a place in the semifinals on Saturday. "Today was a difficult match for us because we were already qualified and Greece was out so we had our ups and downs," said Serbia and Montenegro's captain, Nikola Grbic. Serbia had their characteristic sleepy start and Greece held the advantage through most of the opening set, but then the "Blues" kick-started and emerged 26-24 winners. More Match Stats Pic: Chrysanthos Kyriazistakes on the awesome defence of Serbia and Montenegro

Bulgaria outguns Russia in vital qualifier
Madrid, July 10, 2003 – Russia and Bulgaria pulled out their big guns to contest an early morning shoot-out on the third day of the FIVB $15 million World League final preliminaries in a match that Russia had to win to advance to the semifinals of this elite annual men’s volleyball competition. But Bulgaria, an immensely powerful and talented side, held their nerve against a traditional rival and captured an upset 3-1 (18.25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22) victory to send the title defenders home. Last year Russia almost got knocked out in the preliminaries, but then went on to take the title against hosts Brazil. ”We did not play well today, not yesterday and not before that. I don’t know why,” said Russia’s Pavel Abramov. His coach Guennade Chipouline pledged to “change some of the squad of 12 ahead of the European championship”. More Sp
Match Stats
Pic: Bulgaria's Plamen Konstantinov is ecstatic with the win

Serbia and Montenegro claim victory over Spain
Madrid, July 9, 2003 – Serbia and Montenegro faced a fierce opponent in their second clash in the finals of the FIVB $15 million World League on Wednesday when hosts Spain brought with them their starting six, plus a seventh powerful ally -  some 8000 fans roaring from the stands of this converted bullfighting ring in the Spanish capital. Regrettably for Spain it was not enough to repel the more experienced and higher ranked opposition who walked off 3-1 (25-19.25-20, 20-25, 18-25) winners. more Sp Ge Fr Match Stats
Pic: The fans came out in force to see Spain play on Wednesday

Brazil artistry foils Russian fire power
Madrid, July 9, 2003 – Two well-oiled volleyball machines and arch rivals hit the court at the FIVB $15 Million World League on Wednesday when title- defenders Russia faced world champions Brazil in a match of muscle versus magic, and strength versus subtlety that ended, surprisingly decisively 3-1 for Brazil. “It is always difficult to play against Russia,” Brazilian captain Nalbert said after the match, while coach Bernardo Rezende said his lineup had had a good strategy and they served and blocked well against their great rival. More Spanish Match Stats
Pic: Brazilian libero Sérgio Dutra Santos celebrates the win

Czechs torment Greece to stay in Finals hunt
Madrid, July 9, 2003 – The Czech Republic and Greece mounted joint attacks at the FIVB $15 Million World League on Wednesday knowing the outcome of their match would decide their final four fate. Urged on by pockets of their own team aficionados in this converted bullfighting ring in the Spanish capital from which the Czechs emerged the winners after claiming a 3-1 victory. “This was a game we had to win,” said Czech captain Ivo Dubs. “The Greeks played well in the opening set but then we found our game.” Greece, clearly being groomed for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games proved the stronger in the opener, stealing the match 25-18 but the Czech Republic, which is bristling with talent took the lead at 8-7 in the second and with 23-year- old Martin Lebl and leaping, 205cm Michal Rak spreading his hands like dinner plates on the block they managed to repel the Greek charge with a narrow 19-18 lead. Lebl showed his gentle side with a tiny drop shot over the net for 23-18 but the Greeks clambered back a point before Lebl presented his team with set point, then converted with a massive attack that put them back in the game. More Sp Fr Match Stats
Pic: Marek Novotny on defence for the Czech Republic

Italy overwhelm Bulgaria to stay alive in Finals
Madrid, July 9, 2003 – Italy and Bulgaria met in the opening match of day two of the FIVB $15 million World League finals to deliver a feast of athleticism and technical skills that characterizes the modern game. Italy was victorious 3-1 to stay in the tournament but not without difficulties. ”We had to win this match to stay in and this was our only possibility to reach the final four,” said Italy’s Luigi Mastrangelo. For the second day in a row Bulgaria, in their bid for a semifinals berth, started like an express train and claimed the first set 25-21 while the new look Italy, under coach Gian Paolo Montali, took time to settle. More Match Stats
Pic: Bulgaria's Plamen Konstantinov tries to beat Italy's awesome defense

Spanish Armada sails to victory over Greece

Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2003 – World League finals hosts Spain started with fire in their bellies on Tuesday night in their first encounter of the tournament in this, the FIVB’s elite $15 million annual men’s volleyball competition, defeating Greece 3-1 in the last match of the first day of competition. Urged on by the best crowd of the day, the home team led by maestro captain Raphael (Rafa) Pasqual - and with a share of luck - held off the powerful Greeks until their Marios Gkiourdas delivered an ace to take his side to 23-20. Pascual countered, the set point then went to Greece and was first defended but not for a second time. Spain left the court down 22-25, but was not out. And if not the stunning volleyball of the earlier encounter between Russia and Italy, it was still passionate when Spain steamed to 18-14 in this stadium which usually hosts bullfights. More Spanish German

Pic: Courageous Spanish block deflects Greek attack at World league finals in Spain.

Russia outfoils Italy in an electrifying tiebreaker
Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2003 – Russia wore down and ultimately outfoiled Italy in the closing minutes of an electrifying five-setter to take a step closer to defending their title in the FIVB’s $15 million World League on Tuesday here at the Palacio Vistalegre. The result was Volleyball poetry with Italy writing the first verse, filled with elegant combinations and artistry that signaled they are on the road back to world dominance and undeterred by the might of the Russian colossus. ”It was a good match and a good fight,” said Italian captain Andrea Giani, playing his record-breaking 419th match with the Italian team. “We just made more mistakes and we are not happy with the result.” More Spanish
Pic: Russia mounts a formidable attack against Italy 

Brazil humbles Bulgaria in Pool F
Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2003 - Brazil overcame a shaky first set to crush Bulgaria on Tuesday in the second match of the $15 million World League Finals here at the Palacio Vistalegre after Bulgaria unleashed a first set attack that left the World Champions humbled and chastened and trailing an embarrassing six points at the close of the set. It was then clear that the nervous Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende had to deploy all his tactics to allow the more slightly-built, but masterly Brazilians back into the game. "We made a lot of early mistakes," said Rezende, adding that they did not respect the tactical plan that they had made before the match. "When they (Bulgaria) serve well their block is good," Resende said - and it certainly was in the opener. But while Bulgaria, including towering 210cm Evgeni Ivanov with his immense wingspan, captured Brazil's spikes with ease at the net, Brazil began to gain ground and show the crowd the finesse that has made them one of the world's great teams. They secured the second set 25-21 then took the third by seven points to have the huge Bulgarian lineup finally on the run. More  Spanish
Pic: Brazil fought back from one set down to win in four

Serbia and Montenegro win opening match
Madrid, July 8, 2003 – Serbia and Montenegro opened their bid for the FIVB $15 million World League title on Tuesday morning when they claimed a hard fought 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 26-24) victory against a dangerous Czech team as the fight got underway for this, the richest annual purse in men’s Volleyball. The Czechs looked fresh and made clear, in the opening phases, that they would give the Olympic champions a run for their money, and fielding a lineup of 200cm-plus players made Serbia and Montenegro work for every point. But although Serbia and Montenegro won the match in straight sets, captain Nikola Grbic admitted they had started slow in each set. “Maybe we were a little sleepy, but we played very well at the end of every set and that is what counts,” Grbic, the team’s elegant setter said after the match. More Spanish
Match Stats
Pic: Dula Mester on attack for Serbia and Montenegro


What the coaches said before the 2003 World League final in Madrid, July 7, 2003

We are going to try to do our best in order to make the best possible competition; we know that the competition is hard but if we work well we can have a good result.” Bernardo Rezende, Head Coach of Brazil.
Brazil, World Champions, first meets Bulgaria at 1300 hours CET Pool F.

“We know that our group is very strong but our main goal will be to show that the results in the Intercontinental Round were not a matter of luck. We hope that our team can deliver some surprises,” Milorad Kijac, Head Coach of Bulgaria. Bulgaria finished in second place of Pool C with an 8-4 win-loss ratio in the Intercontinental Round.

The World League is the most important tournament in the world, so we expect to give good shows. That’s our aim, and we have been working hard in the last year for a moment like this. Since this year we celebrating the tournament at home, we want to deliver good matches to our own supporters,” Francisco Hervás, Head Coach, Spain. Spain plays in Pool E with Serbia and Montenegro, Czech Republic and Greece. They play their first match against Greece at 2000 hours CET on Tuesday.

This is our first time in the World League Finals so we hope we can do our best. We are happy to be in this competition of eight champions, Pavel Rerabek, Head Coach of Czech Republic. Czech Republic are newcomers to the World League and topped Pool D in the Intercontinental Rounds

This is also the first time for our country to be at the finals and we are very happy for this. Playing in Madrid gives us a good opportunity to prepare for the Olympic Games 2004,” Greece’s Head Coach Stylianos Prosalikas.
Greece will meet hosts Spain in the front of their home crowd on the opening night of the tournament.

We have not been very lucky with the groups. I think we have a harder group, even though we know it is going to be difficult for both groups. Anyway, if you want to win this World League you have to beat all teams,” Italian Head Coach, Gian Paolo Montali. Italy face a tough draw against Brazil, title holders Russia and Bulgaria in Pool F

“We have some new players and we are working hard in our team yet. Despite this, we want to confirm our victory in last year’s World League Finals.” Russia’s Head Coach, Guennadi Chipouline. Russia is the current titleholder.

The teams taking part in this Final are absolutely the best teams in the world, so I am sure we will experience some good matches. As a personal note, I just hope we will reach semifinals.Serbia and Montenegro Head Coach, Veselin Vukovic. Serbia are the Olympic Champions and topped Pool C in the Intercontinental Round with an 8-4 win-loss ratio.

All set for Finals action
Madrid, Spain, July 7, 2003 - The world's elite men's Volleyball teams settled into the Spanish capital on Monday, on the eve of the FIVB's $15 million World League Finals for 2003, which will register a first for the sport by being held in a converted bull ring. "This is a very special place for the people of Madrid," said Spanish coach Francisco Hervas, indicating that the experience gave him goose bumps. "My father used to bring me here as a child to see the bullfights." More 
Pic: Vistalegre Stadium will host the World League Finals

The "Blues" out for the title in 2003
Belgrade, July 4 - Serbia and Montenegro have passed their first hurdle in the race for the title at the 14th edition of the FIVB World League, but the game doesn’t stop there. Safely qualified for the final round, the “Blues” are now concentrating on securing the top spot on the podium when the Finals tournament kicks off in Madrid next week.
Pic: Serbia and Montenegro's setter Nikola Grbic cuts his usual elegant figure in last year's World League finals.
Story by
Novica Sarec, Serbia and Montenegro volleyball Federation

FIVB $15 Million World League
Pools announced for Finals in Madrid
Lausanne, Switzerland, June, 30, 2003 – Lots have been drawn for the eight team to contest the final of the FIVB $15 million World League to commence July 8 in the Spanish capital Madrid, it was announced at FIVB headquarters on Monday evening. The teams will play in two pools in the preliminary phase of the tournament with hosts Spain playing Serbia and Montenegro, Czech Republic and Greece in Pool E, while in Pool F, Brazil, Russia, Italy and Bulgaria will battle for a spot in the final four.
The FIVB World League is the premier men’s annual volleyball competition and the richest purse in the sport. German Spanish
Pic: Will Russia be able to defend their 2002 World League title?









Daily Competition Calendar
Tuesday, July 8:  10:30 h. YUG–CZE; 13:00 h. BRA–BUL; 17:30 h.  RUS–ITA;   20:00 h. ESP – GRE
Wednesday, July 9:
10:30 h. BUL–ITA; 13:00 h. GRE–CZE; 17:30 h. BRA–RUS; 20:00 h. ESP – YUG
Thursday July 10:
10:30 h. BUL–RUS; 13:00 h. YUG–GRE; 17:30 h. ITA–BRA;   20:00 h. CZE – ESP