Lausanne, June 30, 2008 - Brazil, Russia, USA and China lead their respective pools after the third weekend of Intercontinental Round action in the FIVB World League, the flagship annual event in Men’s Volleyball involving the world's best players competing for more than USD 20 million Prize Money.
The Brazilians, chasing an eighth World League title and sixth in a row, beat Venezuela 3-1 twice in Caracas in front of 12,000 fans both nights in Pool A to improve to a 5-1 win-loss record. Russia lost for the first time in this year’s World League to Italy 3-1 on Thursday, June 26, but came back to win 3-1 on Saturday in front of 7,900 fans in Rome in Pool B. USA cruised past Finland 3-1 both nights at home to improve to 5-1 in Pool C and China downed Egypt 3-1 and 3-0 in Pool D to improve to 4-2.
On both nights in Caracas, Brazil came back from one set down to beat Venezuela. The first game saw them win 16-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-19 and the second night 23-25, 31-29, 25-13, 25-20.
"A game similar to yesterday: Venezuela did well the first two sets, but then after they did not play with the same pressure and with the same voltage,” said Brazil Head Coach Bernardo Rezende. “Brazil played a third set with more tranquillity, as the first and second sets were very uneven. Now we have to continue working and preparing to travel to Europe to face Serbia.”
France also came from a set down in their opening match at home to Serbia to win 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20, but a strong Serbian side turned the tables in the second match and came back to win 16-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-19. France stands 4-2 with Serbia 2-4 in their respective win-loss records.
Eight-time World League winners Italy, looking for their first title since 2000, handed 2002 winners Russia their first defeat with a 27-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21 win in Florence. Russia salvaged a win in the second match 26-24, 19-25, 25-22, 25-20 in the “Match of the Week” (FIVB’s free-to-air match for all television broadcasters) in Rome. Italy stands at 4-2 with their win-loss record.
“It is important this victory more for the points in the table than for the style of our playing,” said Russia Head Coach Vladimir Alekno after the second match.
Italy Head Coach Andrea Anastasi said: “There are no secrets in sports. The winner is always the one who plays the better. Our block-defense worked reasonably well. But I am not satisfied about our attacking combination.”
Cuba made quick work of Korea, winning 25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15 in the first match and 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 in the second. The Cubans are 3-3 and the Koreans yet to get off the mark at 0-6.
USA, bronze medallists in 2007, won 25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18 at home in Green Bay, Wis., against Finland. European champions Spain won their opening match against Bulgaria 25-16, 18-25, 25-21, 25-16 but lost a rollercoaster five-setter, Bulgaria winning 17-25, 29-27, 15-25, 25-23, 15-10 in 2 hours, 18 minutes.
“Overall, I’m happy with the match but there are still things we need to work on, said U.S. Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon after the second U.S. match against the Finns, who have yet to win a match. “I thought we were forcing too many swings in transition. Our blocking was still below standard. We especially need to work on adjusting to the location of the set. Finland is a strong team, a physical opponent and capable of winning matches.”
Japan won a remarkable match 3-2 against 2006 World Championship runners-up Poland at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo Bay on Sunday afternoon. After being swept in straight sets on Saturday (25-14, 25-12, 25-22), Japan bounced back to split the weekend series by winning 29-31, 18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-11 in 2 hours, 24 minutes. Japan improved their win-loss record to 2-4 and Poland dropped to 3-3. It was Japan's first win against Poland since May 2000, and ended a run of 14 straight defeats at the hands of the Europeans.
China down Egypt 25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23 and 25-21, 26-24, 25-19.
The organizer (Brazil), the winner of each pool, plus one wild card chosen by the FIVB, go through to the Final Round in Rio de Janeiro from July 23-27, 2008. The Final Round is now open for press accreditation applications, with the application form available on the official FIVB website at www.fivb.org
The "Match of the Week," which is free for use by television channels, is available to the World League's valued Host Broadcasters and other TV channels on each weekend of Intercontinental Round action and amplifies the interest in the World League among TV viewers. TV channels interested in finding out about broadcasting a "Match of the Week" free of charge are requested to contact the FIVB at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For all the latest news on the 2008 FIVB World League go to the official FIVB website at http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2008/