Lausanne, Switzerland, July 11, 2010 - Russia will join Brazil, Italy, Serbia, Cuba and Argentina at the 2010 FIVB World League Final Round as they beat USA in the final Intercontinental Round match of the 21st edition of the tournament.
Last year's bronze medalists picked up a 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-17, 25-19) win over their American rivals to deny the hosts a place at the next stage, due to take place in Cordoba, Argentina from July 21-25.
Brazil secured top spot in Pool A on Friday evening as they recorded their second win of the week over a determined Bulgaria. Despite thousands of people cramming into the arena, the hosts just couldn't overcome the defending champions, going down 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 28-26) in the first match and 3-2 (25-21, 24-26, 29-31, 25-22, 15-12) in the second.
"I am very sorry for all my players and their hard work," Bulgaria coach Silvano Prandi said. "They fought till the end but we could not make it. We gave all we are capable of at this point."
Elsewhere in Pool A, the Netherlands dealt Korea their 11th and 12th loss of the tournament, leaving them winless with a 3-0 (31-29, 28-26, 25-21) and 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23) win. The Dutch rarely looked like losing and finish the tournament third in the group while Korea finish bottom.
Italy secured their berth to the Final Round by scoring four points over Serbia. They picked up a 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-19) win on Wednesday before gaining the point they needed despite a 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-6) loss on Thursday. Italy showed their attacking prowess in the first game but Serbia managed to find the cracks in the second, and with the win also narrowly qualify for the Final Round as the best pool runner-up.
In the group's other match France dealt China two more losses with a 3-2 (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 16-14) and 3-2 (25-16, 18-25, 19-25, 25-21, 15-8) win to secure third place in the pool. Despite the passionate home support from the Chinese, and the fighting spirit they showed, they could not down the French who finished the tournament with five wins.
Russia survived a scare following their straight sets (25-21, 27-25, 25-23) loss to USA on Saturday night as they picked up a 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-17, 25-19) win on Sunday to seal top spot in Pool C and a place in the Final Round. In a tight affair all weekend, the American fans were left wanting as their side failed to pick up a second win which could have seen them move onto Argentina and the Final Round. Russia finished the Intercontinental Round with 10 wins while the USA picked up eight.
Meanwhile, Finland and Egypt traded victories in Cairo in the week's other two Pool C matches as Finland picked up the first match with a straight sets (25-18, 25-18, 25-14) win while Egypt won the second with a straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) win as well. Finland finish third on four wins while Egypt picked up just two.
Cuba saw off Argentina in Pool D as they also moved on to the next stage of the competition with a 3-2 (25-15, 25-20, 30-32, 23-25, 15-8) and 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-19) win over the Final Round hosts. Despite a narrow win in the first match, Cuba coach Orlando Samuels tested some younger members of his squad in the second. Despite finishing the Intercontinental Round with no wins, Argentina automatically qualify for the Final Round as hosts.
Finally, Poland claimed their first win over Germany in this year's competition in their final game with a 3-1 (25-27, 26-24, 25-21, 25-18) over the visitors in Katowice on Friday. Germany had picked up the first win of the week with a 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11) win in front of 10,000 spectators but a determined Poland regrouped and game back to pick up the win in the second. Germany finish the pool in second place following their return to the tournament while European champions Poland finish in Third.
The competition now moves on to the Final Round in Cordoba, Argentina from July 21-25.