Belgrade, Serbia, July 25, 2009 – Brazil and Serbia will battle for the 2009 World League gold medal on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. in Belgrade Arena. Brazil showed its fast volleyball against Russia in the semis on Saturday, beating Daniele Bagnoli’s team 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21) to reach their tenth World League final. Cheered on by 14,800 spectators, Serbia won their semifinal challenge against Cuba 3-1 (18-25, 25-13, 25-21, 27-25) to book their fourth appearance in a World League final. Cuba will play Russia for the bronze medal Sunday at 5.00 p.m.
BRAZIL – RUSSIA 3-0
Brazil rolled over Russia in straight sets Saturday to book a spot in the final of the 2009 World League at Belgrade Arena. Bernardo Rezende's team made easy work out of Russia in the first semifinal, winning 25-17, 25-21, 25-21 to set up a gold-medal showdown against the winner of the second semifinal between Serbia and Cuba.
Perhaps a little discouraged by their defeat a day earlier to Serbia, Russia looked out of sorts from the start against Brazil. In the first set Brazil rushed out to a 4-0 lead. Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli called for a timeout, which seemed to work, as they went on to reduce the gap to 6-5 before taking an 8-7 advantage into the first technical timeout. After few great serves from Giba, Brazil retook the lead (10-9) and maintained it until the second TTO (16-12). Brazil continued to add to the advantage and won the set by 8 points. Giba scored 7 points on 19 attempts in the first frame.
At the beginning of the second set Russia woke up and took a 5-3 lead. But at the first TTO Brazil led by 1 point. Russia then regained the lead and pushed the score to 12-9 before a few good serves from Lucas leveled the score. The teams trade points until the second TTO until Brazil upped the tempo and took a 19-15 advantage. Russia were unable to reduce the gap and Brazil won the set on a serve from Giba.
Brazil reached the first TTO of the third set leading 8-5. Bagnoli attempted to inject some new blood into his team by bringing on Denis Kalinin for captain Sergey Tetyukhin but Brazil kept on rolling, leading 16-9 by the second TTO. Russia pulled to within 4 points (21-17) but Rezende's team closed the door on any comeback attempt, winning the set 25-21 to book a date in Sunday's final.
“Congratulations to Brazil for a great victory,” said Bagnoli. “They played an excellent match. This is a clear and flawless result, they taught us a lesson, how a team has to play these days. There's so much we have to learn from this match.”
SERBIA – CUBA 3-1
Serbia defeated Cuba 3-1 (18-25, 25-13, 25-21, 27-25) in the second 2009 World League semifinal on Saturday to book their place in Sunday's final against Brazil. The young Cuban team somewhat unexpectedly took the first set by a significant 7 points. Serbia bounced back to beat the Cubans 25-13 in the second frame and never looked back. Serbia, buoyed by a great home crowd at Belgrade Arena, was the better team and deserved the victory.
Cuba took a quick 6-1 lead at the beginning of the first set. Serbia coach Igor Kolakovic called a timeout in an attempt to stabilize his team. By the first technical timeout Cuba was still ahead, 8-3. A series of points for Serbia followed, and the team closed the gap to 10-8. At the second TTO Cuba had a 3-point advantage. After the break, the Cubans continued playing well and prevented Serbia from catching up. Stretching the advantage to 7, Cuba secured the first set.
The Cubans were the first to serve in the second set. The teams trade points until 6-6 when the host team found its rhythm to take an 8-6 lead, thanks to excellent serves from Milos Nikic. After the first TTO, Serbia continued in the same vein, stretching the advantage to 6 points. The 'Blue boys' held the lead until the second TTO, 16-9. Owing to excellent serves, attacks and blocks, Kolakovic's side achieved the biggest advantage in the set, 21-10, and the hosts held on for a comfortable win. Ivan Miljkovic was the top scorer in the frame with 11 points on 29 attempts.
The teams were tied at 4-4 in the third set when the Cubans took the initiative, taking a 7-4 lead. By the first TTO Cuba enjoyed a 2-point difference. Serbia stayed close and leveled the score at 13-13. After a successful serve, Miljkovic smashed through the block and won an extremely important point for Serbia. At the second TTO Serbia had a 1-point advantage. Towards the end of the set, the "Blue Boys" continued with the same enthusiasm, winning the set. Both teams gave their best and the fans were treated to a fabulous game.
The Cubans won the first serve to open the fourth set. But Serbia won the next4 points and took a 3-point lead into the first TTO. Cuba succeeded in tying the score at 13-13 and little separated the teams for the rest of the set. As the breathtaking play continued, it was Serbia who reached the first match point, but did not realize it. The hosts made no mistake on their third match point with a successful attack from Bojan Janic.
Nikola Grbic will guide his team in their fourth World League final and third against Brazil: “Brazil is traditionally a country of great Volleyball players,” he said. “They are missing a few players, but we shouldn't think about that. I am not surprised to see them where they are. We should be patient, clever, calm. What will they do is out of our hands. We will play in the final tomorrow, and that's all that matters.”
Match descriptions, press conferences and free photos for media purposes are available at www.fivb.org
Former Italian Volleyball world champion Andrea Zorzi is in Belgrade to blog on the FIVB website with his project “Follow Me.” A click away from the FIVB homepage, “Follow Me” will track all the technical and backstage aspects of the World League Final Round with videos and articles. New video interviews with Brazilian setter Bruno and USA Coach Alan Knipe are on line. All the press conferences are available as well on video.
RESULTS AND MATCH SCHEDULE
Wednesday, July 22
Argentina – Cuba 1-3 (22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 24-26)
Serbia – USA 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-22)
Thursday, July 23
Cuba – Brazil 1-3 (18-25, 25-23, 17-25, 19-25)
USA – Russia 0-3 (22-25, 22-25, 23-25)
Friday, July 24
Brazil – Argentina 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20)
Russia – Serbia 1-3 (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 21-25)
Saturday, July 25
Brazil – Russia 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21)
Serbia – Cuba 3-1 (18-25, 25-13, 25-21, 27-25)
Sunday, July 26
17.00 hrs, Bronze medal match: Russia - Cuba
20.00 hrs, Gold medal match: Brazil - Serbia