Lausanne, Switzerland, July 8, 2010 - Brazil and Italy both clinched places at the Final Round of the 2010 FIVB World League, due to take place in Cordoba, Argentina, as the Netherlands, Egypt and Germany also celebrated victories on the second day of the final weekend of the Intercontinental Rounds on Thursday.
Defending FIVB World League champions Brazil became the first team to qualify for the Final Round as they overcame Bulgaria 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 28-26) to clinch top spot in Pool A. Brazil used a smooth defense and powerful attack to take an early lead, picking up the first two sets in front of a lively crowd in Varna. However Bulgaria picked up the pace in the third to claim a set back. However the pressure appeared to be too much for the home side as they went down in the fourth, handing the victory to the South Americans.
"It was a quality fight against a great opponent," Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende said following the match. "It's an amazing hall and a fantactic job from the supporters and organizers."
Bulgaria need to win 3-0 or 3-1 in their next match against Brazil on Friday at 3pm GMT to have any chance of qualifying for the next stage as the best pool stage runner-up.
Italy also confirmed their place at the Final Round despite a 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-6) loss to last year's runners-up Serbia at home in Belgrade. Italy needed just one point and secured that in the opening two sets. However Serbia dug deep to win the remaining three sets to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the next stage as the best runner-up. Italy found cracks in the Serbian defense early on, but the hosts quickly plugged them up and despite a number of changes from Italy coach Andrea Anastasi, the visitors couldn't finish the Intercontinental Rounds with a win.
Elsewhere Germany secured second place in Pool D on their return to the FIVB World League with a thrilling five set (25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11) win over Poland in front of 10,000 fans in Katowice. The match see-sawed either way throughout, with fans on the edge of their seats for much of the game. Poland came from behind twice but didn't have enough to down the Germans as they secured their third win of the tournament over the European champions. The two sides will meet again on Friday at 6pm GMT with Poland desperate to make amends.
The Netherlands dealt Korea their 11th loss of the competition as they defeated the Asian side in straight sets (31-29, 28-26, 25-21) in their penultimate 2010 FIVB World League match in Eindhoven. The hosts began well with a number of good blocks but allowed Korea back into the game following a number of unforced errors. However despite a few tense points the home side claimed the early lead. The second set began well for the Netherlands but again Korea fought back before the Dutch saw out the set and easily clinched the match in the third.
Korea will be hoping to improve ahead of their final match of this year's tournament against the Netherlands on Friday at 5.30pm GMT and will be desperate to end their campaign with at least one victory.
Finally, Egypt clinched their first home win of the tournament with a straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) win over Finland in Cairo to finish their campaign on a high. Finland took the early lead but Egypt's block proved too much as they took the opening set. From their the host's momentum proved too much for the travelling Finns and they eventually succumbed, although do finish the competition third in Pool C.
"I am very happy today for our win and hard luck for Finland," Egypt captain Ashrf Abouelhassan said. "I am not only happy for the victory but my happiness because we can come back and win this match."
Friday's matches include Argentina v Cuba at 12.10am GMT, China v France at 8am GMT, Bulgaria v Brazil at 3pm GMT, the Netherlands v Korea at 5.30pm GMT and Poland v Germany at 6pm GMT.