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 Press Release
Final Round distribution set for 2009 World League

Cuba, right, finished first in Pool C after two victories over Japan in Round 6

Lausanne, July 19, 2009 - The six teams that will play in the Final Round of the 2009 FIVB World League in Belgrade, Serbia from July 22-26 were finalized this weekend in a climactic end to Intercontinental Round play.

Hosts Serbia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Russia and the United States make up the Final Six. The teams will be divided into two Final Round Pools, with Serbia, the United States and Russia in Pool E and Argentina, Brazil and Cuba in Pool F. The top two teams from each Pool will advance to the Final Four.

In Pool A, the United States managed to stave off a late surge from Italy to top the standings and book their ticket to Belgrade. The U.S. cemented its place atop the table with a 3-0 victory over the Netherlands on Friday, while the Italians failed to win maximum points from China in their final match, winning a closely contested encounter 2-3 in two hours and six minutes. By dropping points to China, Italy failed to qualify as the second-place team with the most points (that honor went to Russia in Pool C).

"I am happy with the win," Italian coach Andrea Anastasi said Saturday. "But the process is more important to us now than the result, because we ranked second and failed to qualify for the Final Six."

In Pool B, since leaders Serbia had already received a bye to the Final Round as host, Argentina joined the Final Six as the second-place team in the Pool after 3-1 and 3-2 wins over third-place France in Round 6. The victories left Argentina three points ahead of France in the race for second.

"These are the types of matches that make a team better, and Argentina is on the path of becoming a great team," said Argentina coach Javier Weber. "Our first goal, which we achieved, was to play the next match better than the last one. Our next goal is to finish among the best four teams at this World League tournament."

In Pool C, Russia crushed Bulgaria in straight sets twice in Round 6 to earn their berth in the Final Six, while Cuba, which defeated Japan 3-0 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday, also advanced. Cuba leapfrogged Russia into first place on Saturday with their win.

"None of us has played in a final before, but we'll go to Belgrade willing to play our guts out," Cuba captain Roberlandy Simon said. "Every rival from now on will be tough. We have to play hard against everybody."

In Pool D, Brazil stood triumphant as the best team in the entire tournament so far, compiling an 11-1 record after two comfortable wins over Venezuela this weekend. The Brazilians finished a whopping 12 points clear of runners-up Finland, who failed in their attempt to qualify for the Final Round as the best second-place team when they lost 3-2 to Poland on Thursday.

Despite owning the Pool with a 35-6 set ratio, Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende said he was not 100 percent satisfied with his team's play during the Intercontinental Rounds.

"Analyzing the Pool rounds, I regret the defeat we had against Finland," Rezende said. "Now we are going to the Final Round and our first goal is to reach the Final Four."

Final Pool Standings:

Pool A

1. USA, 9-3, 27 pts.

2. Italy, 8-4, 22 pts.

3. Netherlands, 4-8, 13 pts.

4. China, 3-9, 10 pts.


Pool B

1. Serbia, 8-4, 24 pts.

2. Argentina, 7-5, 21 pts.

3. France, 6-6, 18 pts.

4. Korea, 3-9, 9 pts.


Pool C

1. Cuba, 8-4, 26 pts.

2. Russia, 8-4, 23 pts.

3. Bulgaria, 5-7, 15 pts.

4. Japan, 3-9, 8 pts.


Pool D

1. Brazil, 10-1, 33 pts.

2. Finland, 7-5, 21 pts.

3. Poland, 5-7, 13 pts.

4. Venezuela, 1-10, 5 pts.


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