World League 2004 Press & News Final Round (16-18 July)  
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Golden performance from Brazil claims third title in four years

Rome, Italy, July 18, 2004 – Brazil defended their World League title with an amazing display of vintage Volleyball to storm to a 3-1 (27-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-17) victory in a wonderful final over courageous Italy in the Palalottomatica in Rome, Italy.

In front of 11,000 screaming fans Brazil pulled out all their magic tricks led by their magician Giba in a riveting display of top class Volleyball. Spiking, blocking or digging Brazil were too efficient for Italy and they thoroughly deserved to win their fourth World League gold medal and their third in four years in a magnificent scene of blue, green and yellow.

Italy, who have won eight World League titles – the last in 2000 – made it a wonderful contest, with Samuele Papi at his sparkling best. They were unlucky not to win the first set and fought extremely hard in the third. However, Brazil’s class was evident regularly and in the end they wrapped up their fifth international title in two years comfortably.

“I’m very happy because some of our young players did their best and played well,” Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende said. “This is a great win for us and we’re happy to win like this because we managed to spike very well, even if the start was nervous. Now we have a new target in the Olympic Games next month.”

“We reached another important target against Italy playing in front of their home crowd,” Brazilian captain Giovane said. “Maybe this is the first sign of what can happen at the Olympics. We would love to keep playing great matches like this today. From tomorrow we start thinking about Athens”

The Brazilians will definitely be the favourites at the Olympics having collected the 2002 World Championship title, the last two World League titles and the 2003 World Cup.

“Brazil showed they are a strong team, they are a highly skilled team and mentally strong and that is our target if we want to beat them,” Italian captain Andre Giani said. “This match was very important for us because in our plan was to play at the same level, and we did.”

Earlier, Serbia and Montenegro claimed the bronze medal with a hard fought straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-20) win over their Balkan neighbours Bulgaria.

The silver medalists from last year weren’t quite at their efficient best but in the end the Olympic champions proved too experienced and well-organized for Bulgaria to claim their third medal from seven attempts.

2004 World League awards

Best Scorer: Andrea Sartoretti (Italy)
Best Spiker: Samuele Papi (Italy)
Best Blocker: Luigi Mastrangelo (Italy)
Best Server: Matey Kaziyski (Bulgaria)