World League 2004 Press & News Final Round (16-18 July)  
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Italy and Brazil storm into final

Rome, Italy, July 17, 2004 – A super World League final between two of the world’s top teams is in store on Sunday after hosts Italy and defending champions Brazil both won their semifinals in brilliant fashion against Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro respectively in the Palalottomatica in Rome on Saturday.

After a superb 3-0 win over Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro on Friday, Italy were again in sublime form, proving too powerful and accurate on attack for Bulgaria, who were a shade of the side that pushed Brazil hard in their 3-1 defeat on the opening day.

Italy were firing on all cylinders as they blasted past Bulgaria 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-21) with Andrea Sartoretti the star collecting 18 points.

"We played as a real team,” Italian coach Gianpaolo Montali said. “We will do our best in the final but our condition is not the best one. We know we are a good group and we always do our best but we lack shape because we are a team which spends a lot of energy. Tomorrow nothing will be automatic".

Brazil meanwhile, proved that despite missing their injured skipper Nalbert Bitencourt, they won’t let go of their World League title easily as they beat Serbia and Montenegro in three breathtaking sets of Volleyball-at-its-finest 3-0 (25-23, 32-30, 25-20).

Both sides were indestructible, and just like last year's final, the game was played at the highest intensity. Every point was precious and in a city where plenty of battles have been waged before, this one was right up there with the best of them.

“This represented our best match of the season, maybe because for the first time we were challenged by a team with a high level,” Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende said. “We suffered from their strong service, but we did very well in blocking and digging. Our players grew up a lot and this is the most important thing.”

“When we arrived here in Rome someone said that Serbia and Montenegro was playing very well so we trained a lot,” Brazilian captain Giovane Gavio said. “I’m very happy to play the final here in this wonderful city. It will be a beautiful final.”

Sunday’s first match is at 16:00 (local time) with Serbia and Montenegro playing Bulgaria in the playoff for bronze while Italy takes on Brazil in the final at 18:30.