Lausanne, Switzerland, July 3, 2010 – Finland stunned Russia by handing the world No. 3 their first loss of the 2010 FIVB World League on Saturday as Brazil, Italy, Cuba, Bulgaria and USA all recorded wins on the fourth day of the fifth weekend of the Intercontinental Round.
After top scoring in last week’s matches against USA, Finland’s Urpo Sivula was again on song, proving to be instrumental in his side’s 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19) Pool C win over Russia, scoring 25 points in Tampere. Finland began well before Russia fought back to bring the scores level. However Finland never looked back in the third and fourth sets and downed their opponents to the shock of the travelling Russian fans. Russia are still odds on to clinch the Final Round spot in the group but face a tough task with two away matches against USA in next weekend’s final weekend of the Intercontinental Round while Finland make the trip to Africa to face Egypt.
In the day’s opening match Brazil dealt Korea their ninth straight loss in Gwangju with a 3-1 (27-25, 25-21, 22-25, 25-13) win to stay on top of Pool A. The defending champions used their height and power advantage in the opening two sets before Korea pulled one back with a dogged effort. However Brazil used their experience to see out an important victory. "We knew it would be harder than the competition in Brazil because Korea's play is better than before," Bernardo Rezende, Brazil coach, said. "Even though they played well, we got an important win owing to lack of Korea's digging." The two sides will face each other again on Sunday at 5am GMT.
Italy kept the pressure on Serbia in Pool B with a 3-0 (25-17, 27-25, 25-21) win over the China in Wuhan. The visitors strolled into an early lead before China fought back. However the hosts lost their momentum and were never the same. Mistake after mistake saw the visitors take the win to keep their Final Round hopes alive. Italy now have a top-of-the-table battle with Serbia next week in Belgrade as China host France.
Cuba tightened their grip on Pool D with a huge 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) win over Poland away in Lodz in front of 13,000 spectators. The visitors utilized their block and attack and left no doubt as to who was the better side in the first of two matches this weekend. Cuba's opposite Rolando Cepeda Abreu topped the scores with 16 points as Poland’s hopes of a Final Round place look increasingly distant. "The atmosphere was great in the hall,” Robertlandy Simons, Cuba captain, said. “We won in straight sets, although our win wasn't as easy as it seems. Poland fought really hard and we had to give our best." Poland will need to be much stronger as the two sides prepare to meet again on Sunday at 2.30pm GMT.
Bulgaria claimed a 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 27-25) win over the Netherlands on Saturday at home in Varna, keeping the pressure on Pool A leaders Brazil. Bulgaria shocked the Netherlands in the opening set allowing them just nine points. The visitors never found their rhythm and suffered from a number of mistakes during the match, gifting the game to Bulgaria. "I am extremely satisfied with this victory," Bulgaria captain Vladimir Nikolov said. "It was an important match and we won it with a good difference.” The Netherlands now face an uphill task when they take on Bulgaria once again at 4pm GMT.
In the day’s final match USA narrowly overcame a determined Egypt side 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-22, 18-16) in Cairo. The Pool C match see-sawed throughout and could have easily gone either way. However USA just had the edge and after a heart-stopping tie-break set the Olympic champions saw off the African champions.
Earlier in the week, Germany beat Argentina twice, both times 3-1, in Berlin on Wednesday and Thursday while Italy beat China (3-0), Serbia beat France (3-1), Russia beat Finland (3-0) and USA beat Egypt (3-2) on Friday,
For the full draw, standings, latest news, live scoring and photos visit the FIVB World League website at http://www.fivb.org/EN/Volleyball/Competitions/WorldLeague/2010/?Tourn=WL2010