Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 27, 2008 – For the first time ever in FIVB World League history, USA climbed onto the highest step of the podium. The Americans are the sixth team in 19 years of World League to win the competition, after the Italian and Brazilian domination. Serbia claimed the silver medal after losing the final 3-1. Russia gained bronze, thanks to their 3-1 victory against Brazil. The host country of the Final Round didn’t manage a place on the podium, after seven gold medals, two silver and four bronze. The FIVB's flagship annual Men's competition closed this year assigning more than USD 20 million in Prize Money.
Awarded by the FIVB First Executive Vice-President, Mr. Jizhong Wei, and Mr. Carlos Nuzman, Brazilian NOC President, USA captain Thomas Hoff raised the World League cup on Sunday in the Maracanazinho in Rio de Janeiro. More joy came for the USA team with the MVP prize awarded to Lloy Ball (also best setter of the Final Round), while Lambourne was confirmed as best libero.
Showing a mixture of strength and ability, the Olympic champions of 1984 and 1988 overcame the team from Serbia in a very tough match 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22. Serbian opposite Ivan Miljkovic was the top scorer of the final match with 28 points. The wing-spiker William Priddy, from the USA, scored 21 points. The Americans often led the game: beside their well known block and defense system, which they invented in the '80s, they performed great in spiking, especially with Priddy and Clayton Stanley.
The Serbians played a fantastic tournament, displaying a team which mixed the experience of Miljkovic and Nikola Grbic with a new generation of players. They couldn’t find the path for the gold, even if in every set they got really close to USA.
American Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon said, “The World League was a really tough competition and an excellent test for us. Winning it for the first time is a fantastic achievement to the USA. Serbia brought many problems to us during the match.”
USA captain Thomas Hoff said, “I am quite proud of our team. We had overcome very strong players, with a great ball control. We played much better than we did against Serbia in the first match.”
The Head Coach of Serbia Igor Kolakovic said, “I am sad because we lost the final match, but, on the other hand, I am really happy because of our performance. Not many people thought we would be able to reach the Final Round and we did it. Unfortunately, we made many mistakes in the last match.”
“Yes, it’s true” stressed Serbian Captain Nikola Grbic. “The USA played better than us and deserved the title. I am happy because of our performance during the whole competition. I am proud of our efforts.”
Russia defeated Brazil 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19) in the bronze-medal match. The team coached by Vladimir Alekno, with Maxim Mikhaylov in great shape, killed the chances of Brazil thanks to their wonderful “torcida” (11,000 spectators for the match).
Brazilian Head Coach Bernardo Rezende said, “I am really sad because I was not able to recover the team emotionally. Some players were under their levels and did not make it. Let’s work on these days to put them in a good shape again.”
Russian Captain Vadim Khamuttskikh confessed his happiness: “We felt the defeat against Serbia, but could recover on time to leave Brazil with a victory and a medal.”
Gold Final on TV in 100 countries
The FIVB World League 2008 was available in total to more than 31 TV rightsholders worldwide. The Gold Final match was distributed live via satellite to 25 TV channels for fantastic live and semi-live coverage. In Serbia, Volleyball fans followed the action live on the public national RTS station, as well as in the United States, where the ESPN-U network provided valuable coverage of the finals.
MVP (most valuable player): Lloy Ball (USA)
Best Scorer: Ivan Miljkovic (Serbia)
Best Spiker: Dante (Brazil)
Best Blocker: Marko Podrascanin (Serbia)
Best Server: Giba (Brazil)
Best Setter: Lloy Ball (USA)
Best Libero: Richard Lambourne (USA)
World League 2008 Final standings
7. Bulgaria, China, Italy
10. Cuba, Finland, France
13. Egypt, Korea, Spain, Venezuela
World League Honours
“Follow me” by Andrea Zorzi
The FIVB website is enriched with a special blog written by former World Champion Andrea Zorzi. Video interviews and articles are displayed every day from Rio, showing to all Volleyball fans what is happening backstage at FIVB’s premier annual Men’s event. The final interview is with Brazilian Head Coach Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rezende.