World League 2005 Press & News - Week 6

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Eyes on the ball - Poland's Krzysztof Ignaczak receives perfectly
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Cuba, Brazil and Poland all confirmed to join Serbia and Montenegro in World League final round
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 3, 2005 – After six weeks, 72 matches and over 130 hours of pulsating Volleyball action the four finalists for the 2005 World League have been confirmed at the conclusion of the Intercontinental Round on Sunday with defending champions Brazil, Cuba and Poland joining hosts Serbia and Montenegro in the final round in Belgrade.
The commitment and passion shown by all 12 teams during the six weeks of global action had fans around the world on the edge of their seats, with two of the three pools not confirming their winner until the last weekend. World number one Brazil confirmed their final round spot in Pool A during week five but it was Cuba in Pool B and Poland in Pool C who left it until the last minute to seal their places. More
Pic: Great defence from Cuba's Speek Odelvis Dominico (left) and Portuondo Osmany Juantorena against France's Vincent Montmeat
Cuba into finals after doing double over France
Havana, Cuba, July 2, 2005 – The fourth and final 2005 World League finalist was confirmed on Saturday night in Havana after Cuba completed a 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-21) victory over France to secure Pool B and their place in the four-team final round, joining hosts Serbia and Montenegro, Pool A winners Brazil and Pool C winner’s Poland. Cuba’s sensational World League campaign was capped with their second victory over France after they beat the Tri colours 3-1 (30-32, 25-17, 25-23, 25-21) on Friday to finish on top of Pool B with eight wins and four losses, ahead of Italy, preventing the eight-time World League champions from reaching the finals for the first time in the history of the event. More Pic: Cuba celebrate their first World League finals appearance since 2001
Serbia and Montenegro warm up well for finals
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 2, 2005 – The latest action in the 2005 World League on Saturday saw World League finals hosts Serbia and Montenegro warm up for their blue ribbon event with the second of two comprehensive victories over Greece while it will also be remembered for Japan’s first win in the competition since 2003.
Serbia and Montenegro looked in ominous form as they beat Greece 25-15, 25-22, 27-25 in their final match before heading into next week’s World League finals, which run from July 8-10 in Belgrade. The world number three beat Greece 3-0 (27-25, 25-22, 25-17) on Friday.
Pool C now has Poland (final round qualifiers) on top with an 8-3 record, followed by Serbia and Montenegro (7-4), Greece (5-7) and Argentina (3-8). More
Pic: Greece's Zlatko Baev Tontor tries to beat the excellent defence of Aleksandar Mitrovic (5), Dragan Stankovic (7) and Ivan Miljkovic (14)
Cuba eye up final round as Italy lose
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1, 2005 – Cuba continued their excellent form in the 2005 World League when they beat France 3-0 (33-31, 33-31, 25-12) on Friday, putting them on the verge of claiming the last of four final round tickets.
With Brazil and Poland having been confirmed as winners of Pools A and C respectively and the correresponding final round tickets, Cuba are in the drivers set in Pool B to do the same. Hosts Serbia and Montenegro are automatic qualifiers for the finals in Belgrade. Cuba's victory and Italy's surprise 3-1 (30-32, 25-17, 25-23, 25-21) defeat at the hands of Bulgaria means only Cuba and Italy are left with a chance to win the group. Cuba lead with seven victories, followed by Italy with six so Italy's next match against Bulgaria in Varna on Sunday at 20:30 (local time) is a must win affair for the eight-time World League champions. More Pic: Bulgaria pulled off a surprise 3-1 win over Italy
Poland confirmed in Final Round without touching a ball
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1, 2005 – Pool C leaders Poland have confirmed a berth in the Final Round of the 2005 World League, joining defending champions Brazil and hosts Serbia and Montenegro, without even playing a match. Poland's nearest challengers for the ticket - Greece - lost on Friday 3-0 (27-25, 25-22, 25-17) to Serbia and Montenegro, eliminating any chance they had of winning the group.
Following Friday's match, Poland stand on top of the group with a 7-3 record with two games to play, Serbia and Montenegro are second (6-5) but automatically qualify for the final round as hosts while Greece now have a 5-6 record. More
Pic: An understrength Greek side saw their final round hopes disappear following their defeat to Serbia and Montenegro
Proud Portugal aim for second-place finish
Tokyo, Japan, July 1, 2005 - They have been on the road since June 15, but Portugal will give it one last push in the 2005 World League Pool A this weekend.
With a 6-4 win-loss record in 10 outings, Portugal can wrap up a creditable second place behind Brazil with a couple of wins against Japan (0-10) at Yoyogi National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. "The players are a little tired physically, but they are ready to play," Portugal's team doctor, Armando Brandao, said after the team's practice session on Friday afternoon.
"They have played in Brazil and then Venezuela on consecutive weekends, but in spite of the tiredness they want to finish well. The target is to finish in second place, and they are concentrated on the game and ready to win." More
Pic: One last push - Portugal's Nuno Pinheiro (3) and captain Joao Jose (12) contest possession with Japan's Rio Matsunaga during the opening round of the World League
All set for crucial Pool C encounter
Rosario, Argentina, July 1, 2005 – Both teams have confirmed their lineups and Argentina and Poland are raring to go in their crunch Pool C encounter in Rosario, which opens with the first match on Friday.
Poland needs just one victory to win Pool C and claim a ticket to the Final Round in Belgrade while Argentina, who are out of contention for the finals, will be hoping to finish their World League campaign in style in front of their own fans.
Argentina have made one change with Maximum Torcello replacing Jerónimo Bidegain, who did not travel with the squad for the past two weekends. More
Pic: Poland's middle blocker Lukasz Kadziewicz spikes as Gabriel Arroyo tries to block

Tough assignment for Greece
June 29, 2005 – With Serbia and Montenegro already assured of a finals spot due to their position as hosts, Greece, who need two victories to stay in contention for the Final Round, will need to be right on top of their game to do the double against their more fancied rivals in Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Serbia and Montenegro still have everything to play for, in terms or being ready for the Final Round in Belgrade, and they won’t be lying down easily, particularly in front of their home fans. The world number three has been in good form in recent weeks, which is no doubt the script that coach Ljubomir Travica has written, with four wins from six matches, including three from four at home. More
Cuba aiming for first top four finish since 1999
June 29, 2005 – There is unlikely to be an empty seat in Havana – both in the "Ciudad Deportiva" Coliseum and in every television household – when Cuba hosts France this weekend. For the first time since the glory days of the 90’s, are Cuba on the verge of reaching the World League top four.
Until recently Cuba was one of the sport's undisputed powerhouses with an impressive history of success in the World League but following a number of national team defections in 2001, the Central Americans have been rebuilding.
Since 2000, Cuba has finished 8th, 5th, 13th, 13th and 7th last year after finishing no worst than fourth between 1991 and 1999. Now, Cuba must put their heads down and collect two victories over World Championship bronze medallists France. More

Can Japan break their duck?
June 29, 2005 – For the second time in two years World number 17 Japan are stearing down the barrel of another winless World League campaign. After finishing in 10th spot last year (along with Portugal and China) Japan are facing two matches this weekend against Portugal, where they need to break a 22-game run of defeats. It would be a wonderful way to finish for Ueta Tatsuya and his team, especially in front of their own fans but it obviously won’t be an easy task with a new and improved Portuguese side, having blossomed under the leadership of coach Orlando Samuels, looking for two victories themselves to seal second spot in the group. Currently ranked 18th in the world, Portugal have broken a bad run of their own by having guaranteed their best ever finish in the World League in six attempts. Prior to 2005, Portugal had finished last in all five campaigns so whatever the result this weekend, there is plenty to celebrate for Joao Jose and his men. More
Poland, Greece, Italy, Cuba, Bulgaria and France chase last two finals tickets
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 29, 2005 – When the 2005 World League started on May 28, who would have thought six teams would still be in contention for the Final Round going into the last weekend of the Intercontinental Round? In Pool B, all four teams - Italy, Cuba, Bulgaria and France – have the chance of joining hosts Serbia and Montenegro and defending champions Brazil, who qualified for the Final Round last weekend, while Pool C is down to a two horse race between Poland and Greece. More

History on the line for Poland
June 28, 2005 – World number seven and current Pool C leaders Poland head to Argentina (ranked eighth in the world) for two matches, which they will no doubt prefer to be playing elsewhere.
After 10 matches of the highest quality where they have record seven victories and three defeats, Poland must now record just one victory against the South Americans but that is easier said than done in front of many gazing Argentinean eyes.
So far, Argentina have split both their contests with Serbia and Montenegro and Greece while playing at home but as the Intercontinental Round has continued, the South Americans have developed into an impressive unit, one which will not let their fans down without giving a fight. More
Venezuela set for best ever finish
June 28, 2005 – World number 13 Venezuela will have one thing on their mind when they take on world number one Brazil this weekend - second spot in Pool A. To finish behind the World League defending champions - who have already qualified for the Final Round, which runs from July 8-10 in Belgrade, by building an unbeatable lead in the group - would represent a significant improvement in Venezuela’s World League fortunes, beating their best ever finish substantially in four years of trying.
Three attempts from 2001 to 2003 only recorded three 13th place finishes and after a year’s sabbatical, Venezuela are on the verge of making a brilliant return to the big time, with a seventh place finish guaranteed.

Brilliant battle to open Round Six
June 28, 2005 – Two teams needing two victories to claim a ticket to the Final Round. No one could have written a better script, not only for this match but for this group, with Cuba and France in the same predicament. When looking at this contest one has to fancy Bulgaria’s chances, considering they’re playing at home, which is traditionally a cauldron of intensity often feared by visiting teams. But when seeing eight-time World League champions and last year’s silver medallists Italy will line up on the other side of the net, one has to say, the only thing guaranteed is a contest of the highest order. More