July 5, 2009 – Round 4 of the 2009 FIVB World League proved that no team will receive
a free ride to the title.
Brazil tasted defeat for the first time at the tournament this weekend, falling
in five sets to Finland on Sunday. The Brazilians remain the runaway leaders in
Pool D, but the loss was a sharp wake-up call two weeks ahead of the Final
Round in Belgrade.
Pool A: Pool A leaders USA will have their work
cut out for them next weekend at home when they host a resurgent Italy, who
moved to within four points of the U.S. this weekend with a sweep of the
Netherlands. Italy won their fourth consecutive match against the Dutch,
winning both games in Round 4 in straight sets to take over second place and
set up a mouthwatering series against the leaders in Round 5.
Italy captain Matej Cernic says the
dynamics of the group have changed and despite his team’s slow start, Italy now
has a chance to win the group. “The most positive point of the last two weeks
is that we improved match after match and our game is much better now,” Cernic
said. “We started under very different circumstances and now we are battling
for success. It is a big difference.”
U.S., meanwhile, split its two matches with China, losing the opener in five
sets before rebounding with a 3-1 win on Sunday in Jiangning.
Pool B: The tightest group in the 2009 tournament,
Pool B has seen the lead change hands each weekend. This weekend it was
Serbia’s turn to take over first place, wresting the honor from Round 3 top
dogs France. Serbia beat the French in four sets on Friday and Sunday in
preparation for the Final Round in Belgrade later this month. Serbia has
already been guaranteed a berth in the last six, having received a bye as
moved past France into second place after beating Korea 3-0 on Sunday. Korea
won the opener in five sets to remain in the hunt with four Interncontinental
Round matches left to play.
Pool C: Cuba split its two matches with Russia
but came out a further two points ahead of the hosts in the race for first in
Pool C. Cuba, which lost the opener 3-2, bounced back with a straight-sets win
in the rematch to stretch its lead over Russia to five points with two rounds
to go before the Belgrade finals. "This was a very important victory on
our way to the Final Round," said Cuban coach Orlando Samuels. "I
think Russia wasn't playing at their usual level and hadn’t recovered
completely from the first match. Our players are younger and they recover
faster. It made the difference today."
meanwhile, lost its chance to catch up to the leaders when it dropped its
second match to last-place Japan on Sunday, 3-2 (26-24, 13-25, 21-25, 25-23,
15-13). Bulgaria, which won its opener 3-1, now sit 9 points behind Cuba in
Pool D: It took them 12 matches to do so, but
Finland finally beat Brazil in the World League with a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25,
25-22, 25-22, 17-15) victory in Tampere on Saturday that took two and a half
hours to complete. Brazil went into the match undefeated, having gone 7-0 after
winning the opener in straight sets. Finland slipped into third place despite
the historic win as Poland swept its series with Venezuela.
Finland coach Mauro Berruto couldn’t have been happier beating the Pool D
leaders. "This is a big step for us and it is a consequence of the work
and growing process of the team. This is big gift to the team and to me of
course. This gives us gasoline to continue our work."
after Round 4:
1. USA, 6-2,
2. Italy, 5-3,
Netherlands, 3-5, 11 pts.
4. China, 2-6,
5-3, 16 pts.
4-4, 12 pts.
4-4, 11 pts.
4. Korea, 3-5,
1. Cuba, 6-2,
5-3, 14 pts.
3-5, 10 pts.
4. Japan, 2-6,
7-1, 21 pts.
4-4, 11 pts.
4-4, 11 pts.
1-7, 5 pts.