Lausanne, June 21, 2009 - With previously unbeaten Russia
and Cuba splitting their two-game series in Havana this weekend, Brazil emerged
as the only undefeated team left in the 2009 FIVB World League after two rounds
Brazil tops its pool with 11 points after a home sweep of
Finland on the second weekend of competition, featuring 16 of the world's top
men's national teams.
Pool A: The Netherlands solidified their position atop
Pool A with two decisive straight-sets victories over China in Apeldoorn,
winning Friday 26-24, 28-26, 25-20 and Sunday 25-18, 25-20, 25-15. The Dutch
improved to 3-1 at the tournament while China dropped to the bottom of the pool
at 1-3. Netherlands captain Jeroen Trommel said he was impressed by the rhythm
he and his teammates have found. "We got into a flow and played like a
machine. I think we were better in each aspect of the game. It was another step
forward in our progress," he said.
The team the Netherlands beat in the opening match of the
tournament, the United States, also won its two matches on the weekend to stay
only two points behind the early pool leaders. The U.S. twice beat an
out-of-sorts Italian side 3-1 in Italy, leaving the Azzurri in third place with
just three points from its first four matches.
The defending Olympic and World League champions USA won
their first encounter with Italy 21-25, 28-30, 25-21, 21-25 on Friday, and
19-25, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25 on Sunday. The USA will play its first home matches
this weekend against China, while struggling Italy will play its first away
matches against the Netherlands.
Pool B: France, South Korea, Argentina and Serbia once
again finished their weekends with one win and one loss each. Korea tops the
table due to a better points ratio after a solid 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 25-22)
victory over Serbia on Sunday following a 3-1 (25-14, 27-29, 18-25, 18-25)
defeat to the Serbs a day earlier. Sunday's victory was the first ever for
Korea over their European rivals.
Elsewhere, second-place France dropped a five-set
nail-biter to Argentina in their first match, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 9-15
but returned the favor on Sunday with a 5-21, 26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 15-9 victory
on home soil. "We really needed a victory," said French Captain
Marien Moreau. "We wanted to take 3 points but with 2, it's still good. We
played well during the first two sets but Argentina then recovered their
Pool C: All eyes were on Havana this weekend to see which
volleyball powerhouse, Russia or Cuba, would come out on top of their double-header.
In the end, neither did as the teams split the series, with Cuba winning the
opener on Friday 3-2 (25-18, 24-26, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11) and Russia exacting
revenge the following day 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 25-18, 20-25, 13-15). Both teams
agreed that Cuban errors made it much easier than it should have on the
visitors in the second match.
"We played better tonight, but we benefited from all
the errors Cuba made," said Russian captain Alexey Kazakov.
Russian coach Daniele Bagnoli issued a helpful warning to
Cuba ahead of its upcoming matches against Japan this weekend. "Cuba has
to play carefully against Japan," he said. "Cuba has a chance to play
well overseas, but they have to work on their errors in order to improve their
In other Pool C action, Japan and Bulgaria traded 3-1
victories in Europe. Bulgaria was feeling confident after a comfortable 26-24,
19-25, 25-21, 25-22 victory on Friday, but were made to pay for their
complacency two days later as they fell 16-25, 25-14, 24-26, 21-25 to the
visitors. Things won't be any easier for the teams this weekend, as Japan hosts
Cuba and Bulgaria visits Russia.
Pool D: After rolling over Poland last week, Brazil
continued its domination against Finland, winning 3-2 and 3-0. The Finns gave
everything they had in Friday's 25-22, 26-28, 25-16, 23-25, 15-9 loss, but were
quickly disposed of by the South Americans on Saturday, 25-17, 25-19, 25-20.
Despite dropping to 1-3 and the bottom of the pool, Finland coach Mauro Berruto
was still appreciative of the way his team performed against the mighty
"I am really proud of the Finnish team,"
Berruto said after the five-set thriller on Friday. "We played a
spectacular match against the best team in the world. We overcame many problems
to play at such a high level."
Poland, meanwhile, rebounded from its two losses to
Brazil on opening weekend to sweep Venezuela on the road in round two. The
Europeans scraped out a 2-3 (25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 25-27, 11-15) win on Friday
before cruising to an 0-3 (21-25, 11-25, 18-25) victory Sunday.
Results after Round 2:
1. Netherlands, 3-1, 10 pts.
2. USA, 3-1, 8 pts.
3. Italy, 1-3, 3 pts.
4. China, 1-3, 3 pts.
1. Korea, 2-2, 6 pts.
2. France, 2-2, 6 pts.
3. Argentina, 2-2, 6 pts.
4. Serbia, 2-2, 6 pts.
1. Cuba, 3-1, 9 pts.
2. Russia, 3-1, 9 pts.
3. Bulgaria, 1-3, 3 pts.
4. Japan, 1-3, 3 pts.
1. Brazil, 4-0, 11 pts.
2. Poland, 2-2, 5 pts.
3. Venezuela, 1-3, 4 pts.
4. Finland, 1-3, 4 pts.