Lausanne, June 15, 2009 - Brazil, Russia and Cuba were
the only teams to pick up maximum points during the first weekend of the 2009
FIVB World League, each winning their opening two matches in convincing
The trio top their respective pools with 6 points each
following the Opening Round of play at the competition, featuring 16 of the
world's top men's national teams.
Pool A: The Netherlands got off to a great start by
upsetting Beijing Olympic gold medalists and defending World League champions the
United States in their first match played at Ahoy Rotterdam. The Dutch stunned
the visiting team in straight sets (25-22, 25-19, 26-24) on Saturday, leaving
coach Peter Blangé in an understandably buoyant mood. "I am very happy
with the result. Our serving and blocking, normally not our strongest points,
worked out fantastic," Blangé said. "I am sure that the USA will be
much better in the next match, but we are ready for them."
The Americans were indeed much better in the rematch,
having analyzed the Dutch tactics and prepared the necessary countermeasures.
The U.S. evened the series at 1-1 with a hard-fought 3-2 win (16-25, 32-30,
17-25, 25-20, 6-15).
In other Pool A action, Italy traded straight-sets
victories with China in Verona, with the hosts winning Friday's opener 3-0
(25-16, 25-12, 25-16) before succumbing to the visitors 21-25, 23-25, 32-34 a
Pool B: France, South Korea, Argentina and Serbia all
finished the weekend with one win and one loss. Serbia and France got things
going on Friday in Nis, with the hosts losing in straight sets 0-3 (22-25,
17-25, 27-29). Serbia battled back on Sunday with a 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 19-25,
25-23) win that took just under two hours to complete. Korea, meanwhile, opened
their World League campaign off with a 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 34-36, 25-16, 15-13)
victory over Argentina in Suwon, before losing the rematch by the same score
(25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 12-15) on Sunday.
"I am very satisfied by the performance of my
players," said Argentine coach Javier Weber. "Korea showed better
defense compared to yesterday especially in the fourth and fifth sets, but my
players did their job perfectly. That is the main reason for today's
Pool C: Russia visited Japan during the first round and
left with two commanding victories as souvenirs. The visitors dropped only one
set in their two matches, winning 0-3 (22-25, 23-25, 16-25) on Saturday and 1-3
(22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 12-25) on Sunday. Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli had much
to be pleased about after the wins, but said he was particularly impressed with
the way his players responded to losing the third set in the second match.
"I am very happy about the reaction of my team after we lost the third
set. For me it's very, very important to see such a great reaction from my
players," Bagnoli said. "This makes me optimistic for the future
because I like to see the team when the play is difficult, not when the play is
easy. This really is the difference between great teams and normal teams - how
you resolve problems when the situation is difficult."
Cuba also went unbeaten on the weekend after two 3-1
victories over Bulgaria in Havana. The hosts won 24-26, 29-27, 25-18, 25-2 on
Friday and wrapped the series up with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20 victory on
Pool D: Brazil joined Cuba and Russia as the only
unbeaten teams remaining in the competition after downing Poland 3-1 (23-25,
25-18, 25-20, 25-19) on Saturday and 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-15) on Sunday in Sao
Paulo. The competition was much closer in Caracas, where Venezuela hosted
Finland. The hosts got off to an immaculate start, winning the opener on Friday
in straight sets (27-25, 25-21, 25-22), but were treated to some of their own
medicine on Sunday, losing 3-1 (23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 23-25) in a match that
lasted just over two hours. Finland coach Mauro Berruto, who instructed his
players not to pay attention to the vocal home crowd in the second match, said
he was impressed with the way his team bounced back from the opening defeat.
"I am happy and proud of the result," Berruto said. "We improved
in reception, serving and defense. The players were in a different mood, which
helped them to score important points and finally be winners."
The second round of World League play gets under way this
Friday and wraps up on Sunday.