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 Press Release
Finland gives Brazil wake-up call in Round 4 of World League

Serbia had plenty of reasons to celebrate after taking over as Pool B leaders this weekend

Lausanne, July 5, 2009 – Round 4 of the 2009 FIVB World League proved that no team will receive a free ride to the title.

Favorites Brazil tasted defeat for the first time at the tournament this weekend, falling in five sets to Finland on Sunday. The Brazilians remain the runaway leaders in Pool D, but the loss was a sharp wake-up call two weeks ahead of the Final Round in Belgrade.

Pool A: Pool A leaders USA will have their work cut out for them next weekend at home when they host a resurgent Italy, who moved to within four points of the U.S. this weekend with a sweep of the Netherlands. Italy won their fourth consecutive match against the Dutch, winning both games in Round 4 in straight sets to take over second place and set up a mouthwatering series against the leaders in Round 5.

Italy captain Matej Cernic says the dynamics of the group have changed and despite his team’s slow start, Italy now has a chance to win the group. “The most positive point of the last two weeks is that we improved match after match and our game is much better now,” Cernic said. “We started under very different circumstances and now we are battling for success. It is a big difference.”

The U.S., meanwhile, split its two matches with China, losing the opener in five sets before rebounding with a 3-1 win on Sunday in Jiangning.

Pool B: The tightest group in the 2009 tournament, Pool B has seen the lead change hands each weekend. This weekend it was Serbia’s turn to take over first place, wresting the honor from Round 3 top dogs France. Serbia beat the French in four sets on Friday and Sunday in preparation for the Final Round in Belgrade later this month. Serbia has already been guaranteed a berth in the last six, having received a bye as hosts.

Argentina also moved past France into second place after beating Korea 3-0 on Sunday. Korea won the opener in five sets to remain in the hunt with four Interncontinental Round matches left to play.

Pool C: Cuba split its two matches with Russia but came out a further two points ahead of the hosts in the race for first in Pool C. Cuba, which lost the opener 3-2, bounced back with a straight-sets win in the rematch to stretch its lead over Russia to five points with two rounds to go before the Belgrade finals. "This was a very important victory on our way to the Final Round,"  said Cuban coach Orlando Samuels. "I think Russia wasn't playing at their usual level and hadn’t recovered completely from the first match. Our players are younger and they recover faster. It made the difference today."  

Bulgaria, meanwhile, lost its chance to catch up to the leaders when it dropped its second match to last-place Japan on Sunday, 3-2 (26-24, 13-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-13). Bulgaria, which won its opener 3-1, now sit 9 points behind Cuba in third place.

Pool D: It took them 12 matches to do so, but Finland finally beat Brazil in the World League with a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 17-15) victory in Tampere on Saturday that took two and a half hours to complete. Brazil went into the match undefeated, having gone 7-0 after winning the opener in straight sets. Finland slipped into third place despite the historic win as Poland swept its series with Venezuela.

Nevertheless, Finland coach Mauro Berruto couldn’t have been happier beating the Pool D leaders. "This is a big step for us and it is a consequence of the work and growing process of the team. This is big gift to the team and to me of course. This gives us gasoline to continue our work."

Results after Round 4:

Pool A

1. USA, 6-2, 18 pts.

2. Italy, 5-3, 14 pts.

3. Netherlands, 3-5, 11 pts.

4. China, 2-6, 5 pts.


Pool B

1. Serbia, 5-3, 16 pts.

2. Argentina, 4-4, 12 pts.

3. France, 4-4, 11 pts.

4. Korea, 3-5, 9 pts.


Pool C

1. Cuba, 6-2, 19 pts.

2. Russia, 5-3, 14 pts.

3. Bulgaria, 3-5, 10 pts.

4. Japan, 2-6, 5 pts.


Pool D

1. Brazil, 7-1, 21 pts.

2. Poland, 4-4, 11 pts.

3. Finland, 4-4, 11 pts.

4. Venezuela, 1-7, 5 pts.

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