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Venezuela and Bulgaria stay in Final Round contention

June 18, 2005 Both Venezuela and Bulgaria did their chances of reaching the 2005 World League Final Round a world of good by both recording impressive victories over Japan and Cuba respectively in their opening matches of Round Four of the Intercontinental Round.

Venezuela comfortably beat Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-20) in Tokyo with captain Ernardo "Harry" Gomez leading all scorers with 20 points, and clearly feeling at home in the country where he plays his club volleyball.

For Japan, who suffered their seventh straight loss in Pool A, their leading scorer with 13 was Marcos Sugiyama, who scored some spectacular winners but received little support from his overawed teammates.

Venezuela, who improved to 3-4 in seven matches, with all three victories coming against Japan, had far too much height and power at the net for a Japan team lacking in confidence.

Meanwhile, in Havana, Bulgaria, who finished fourth at the 2004 World League, took revenge against Cuba following two defeats at home in the opening round of the competition in front of a packed Cuban crowd and kept their Final Round chances alive in Pool B.

The home team made numerous errors, especially in the service and the blocking but it was still a momentous victory for Bulgaria in a red hot atmosphere.

Both squads will meet again Saturday night at Havana's Ciudad Deportiva Hall.
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