Lausanne, June 28, 2009 - The Intercontinental Rounds of
2009 FIVB World League reached their halfway point on the weekend, with Brazil
remaining the only unbeaten team at the tournament following two victories over
Finland in Round 3.
Defending champion the United States also won its matches
to improve to 5-1, while Cuba swept aside Japan to stay 3 points ahead of
Russia, who split its series with Bulgaria in Pool C action.
Pool A: After an opening day loss to the Netherlands, the
United States have now gone five matches without a defeat to lead Pool A on 14
points, 3 points ahead of second-place Holland. The Americans cruised to two
straight-sets victories over China in San Jose, California, in Round 3, beating
the visitors 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 on Friday and 25-20, 25-23, 25-22 on Sunday.
The Netherlands fell from first after two losses at the
hands of a much-improved Italian team, who won 2-3 (25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 15-25,
9-15) on Friday and 0-3 (23-25, 15-25, 20-25) on Sunday in Holland.
For Italy coach Andrea Anastasi, the wins were a crucial
step toward remaining in the competition after opening the tournament 1-3.
"We lost three matches ahead of this weekend and by winning these games we
are still in the tournament," Anastasi said. "We have to improve step
by step, day by day and match by match."
Pool B: France set out to claim first place in Pool B by
winning both its matches at home against Korea this weekend, and they didn't
disappoint. France improved to 4-2 at the tournament with a 3-1 (25-18, 25-19,
16-25, 25-21) victory Friday, and a marathon five-set win on Sunday, 25-23,
24-26, 34-32, 20-25, 15-10, in a match that took almost two and a half hours to
Serbia, meanwhile, moved into second place with a 3-0
(25-15, 27-25, 25-19) win over Argentina on Sunday, despite dropping the opener
on Friday 2-3 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 13-15).
In the tightest pool of the tournament, France leads
Serbia by 1 point (11 to 10), while Argentina (8) and Korea (7) are still in
contention in third and fourth place.
Pool C: Cuba and Russia went into Round 3 with identical
3-1 records but the South Americans came out of the weekend three points clear
of their rivals after two convincing straight-sets victories over Japan, while
Russia shared the spoils of its two-game series with Bulgaria.
Cuba beat Japan 22-25, 19-25, 25-27 on Saturday and
22-25, 21-25, 18-25 on Sunday to improve to 15 points, while Russia took it on
the chin Saturday in Khabarovsk, losing 29-31, 25-16, 23-25, 20-25, before
bouncing back Sunday with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) win.
Russia coach coach Daniele Bagnoli said he was pleased
with the way his team played Sunday after a disappointing performance a day
earlier. "I am very pleased that after the defeat we found a way to
significantly improve. The first match gave me some vital information about my
players. I also came to understand which of the things I tried didn't
Pool D: After three rounds, it appears that any team
hoping to win the 20th edition of the World League will have to find a way to
beat Brazil, who won their sixth consecutive match at the tournament this
Brazil didn't lose a set against Poland, beating the
hosts 23-25, 22-25, 10-25 on Saturday and 19-25, 21-25, 20-25 on Sunday.
The South Americans now enjoy an 8-point lead over
second-place Finland, who won both its matches over Venezuela, 3-2 (19-25,
26-24, 24-26, 25-13, 27-25) on Friday and 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-19) on
Finland will now attempt to hold on to second in the
group to hopefully be selected as the wild card for the Final Round in Serbia
next month. The first-place finishers from each pool advance along with hosts
Serbia, while the FIVB will pick one wild card from among the runner-up
finishers in each group.
Finnish coach Mauro Berruto was pleased with the progress
his team is showing and is confident Finland can give their next two opponents,
Brazil and Poland, a run for their money. "I am happy today," Berruto
said. "I saw what I wanted to see ... We will be better against Brazil and
even better against Poland."
Results after Round 3:
1. USA, 5-1, 14 pts.
2. Netherlands, 3-3, 11 pts.
3. Italy, 3-3, 8 pts.
4. China, 1-5, 3 pts.
1. France, 4-2, 11 pts.
2. Serbia, 3-3, 10 pts.
3. Argentina, 3-3, 8 pts.
4. Korea, 2-4, 7 pts.
1. Cuba, 5-1, 15 pts.
2. Russia, 4-2, 12 pts.
3. Bulgaria, 2-4, 6 pts.
4. Japan, 1-5, 3 pts.
1. Brazil, 6-0, 17 pts.
2. Finland, 3-3, 9 pts.
3. Poland, 2-4, 5 pts.
4. Venezuela, 1-5, 5 pts.