World No. 3 Russia beat Olympic champions and world No. 2 USA 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-14) and 3-1 (25-14, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21) in Ekatarineburg to make the best possible start in Pool C. The 2002 World League champions already lead the group after Finland and Egypt claimed one win a piece in Tampere. Finland stand second in the pool after claiming a losing bonus point in Saturday’s 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 16-25, 25-20, 13-15) loss to Egypt – who made a successful return to the World League after missing the 2009 edition - marking their first ever loss to Egypt in six matches. Finland claimed the honours in Sunday’s match 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19).
Meanwhile, defending champions Brazil were pushed to the limit by Bulgaria in both of their matches at home in Uberlandia, picking up a 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-23) win on Friday before taking the second game 3-2 (24-26, 25-19, 25-15, 22-25, 15-9) in a thrilling encounter on Saturday. "It was an important win however, I regret we lost a point and that can be important at the end of the Intercontinental Round,” Brazil coach Bernardinho said on Saturday. “We still have a long way to go and need to improve in several areas.”
The eight time champions sit second in Pool A behind the Netherlands who scored the first away victory of the weekend over Korea with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) win on Saturday before doing the double with a comprehensive 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-18) win in Suwon on Sunday.
In Pool B, last year’s losing finalists Serbia proved too strong for China with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-20) victory in Nis before an incredible 25 points from Sasa Starovic helped Serbia to a 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14) win in Sunday's second encounter in Belgrade. "We have a very young team and these two matches were a big gain playing against such a strong team as Serbia," China coach Jianin Zhou said.
Italy are second in the group after seeing off France in Parma and Modena with a 3-0 (27-25, 26-24, 25-17) win on Friday followed by an Alessandro Fei inspired 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 31-29, 26-24, 15-10) win on Saturday. Fei’s 29 points in the Modena sees him lead the 2010 World League Best Scorer chart with 45 points over the weekend.
The success story of the weekend was in Pool D with Germany, who were making their first FIVB World League appearance since 2003. The world No. 17 claiming two outstanding victories over world No. 5 and European champions Poland in Stuttgart. Saturday’s 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-22) win featured the weekend’s highest individual match scorer with Georg Grozer collecting 32 points followed by a 3-0 (28-26, 30-28, 25-18) victory on Sunday. “Saturday was already really surprising and it was even more difficult to repeat such a great performance," German captain Björn Andrae said. "I am rather speechless to start the Preliminary Round with two victories.”
Cuba sit second in the group with two wins over Argentina in Havana with 10,000 fans witnessing a 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 25-18) victory on Friday. Argentina fought back in the second match to claim a bonus losing point 3-2 (32-34, 25-23, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13). “The Argentineans played superbly and it was extremely difficult for us," Cuba captain Robertlandy Simons said. "From now on we have to work harder if we want to reach the final stage of the World League, which is our main objective. Argentina is a big rival and we must strive to keep beating them."
Week Two of the FIVB World League Intercontinental Round continues next weekend with all 16 teams in action, starting on Thursday with France hosting Serbia at 18.30 (GMT).
The FIVB World League Final Round takes place in Cordoba, Argentina from July 21-25.