Uberlandia, Brazil, October 12, 2013 - Brazil and Serbia will play off for the first ever U23 world title in Sunday's final at the Men's U23 World Championship after winning their respective semi-finals on the penultimate day of competition at the Arena Presidente Tancredo Neves.
First team to earn their place in the final were Brazil who gave the home crowd in Uberlandia a treat with a 3-0 (21-16, 22-20, 25-23) victory against Russia. Brazil started slowly in the first two sets but came back strong both times and had to save a set point in the third before wrapping up the win.
Captain Ricardo Lucarelli was restored to the team after a recent knee problem and many of his 11 points were at crucial moments for Brazil, while middle blocker Matheus Cunda scored seven blocking points in Brazil's team total of 15 for the match.
"As always, we studied our opponent a lot," said Cunda. "We went to sleep thinking about what they do and how they do it, so we could get here today and do our best without giving chances to them." Russia captain Dmitry Kovalev admitted Brazil had served well and blocked their high balls well, but also lamented the fact that his team hadn't taken proper advantage of their opportunities.
Brazil will meet Serbia in the gold medal final after they ruthlessly demolished Bulgaria 3-0 (21-13, 21-18, 21-10) in the second semi-final. Their victory was based around a superb defensive performance from middle blocker Srecko Lisinac who smashed the individual best for blocking points in tournament, scoring 10 out of Serbia's total of 18, which was also the highest number by a team.
"If we can keep this up, we can beat everybody," said Lisinac about the quality of Serbia's victories against Russia and Bulgaria. "I'm glad that I was able to block as I couldn't in other matches, but we also played very well in serving and in reception."
Alongside Serbia's sound defence, the spiking attacks of Aleksandar Atanasijevic, Filip Stoilovic and Uros Kovacevic were just too much for Bulgaria to deal with.
In the 5th-8th classification matches Venezuela upset Argentina with an impressive 3-0 (21-18, 21-14, 21-14) win in the first match of the day. Venezuela surprised Argentina with their intensity and were inspired by the all-round display of attack, defence and serving from captain Kervin Martin Pinerua Urbina who scored 19 points, almost a third of his team's match total.
"This was a perfect game," said Pinerua Urbina. "We performed in an excellent way on court. Argentina has been our team to beat since forever, that's why we fought from the beginning. The entire team was focused in winning, the attitude was the best."
Venezuela will now play Iran who had to resist the challenge of Tunisia to record a 3-1 (21-13, 21-18, 18-21, 21-17) victory in their classification match. After Iran ran away with the first, the last three sets were very closely contested with the winner only taking the decisive advantage as the set finished.
The win was based on a strong defensive performance led by opposite Reza Ghara who produced one of the highest individual blocking performances of the tournament with seven of his team's 13 blocking points. "Tunisia showed a very good performance," said Ghara. "The level of this competition is very hard, you can find very good players in this new age category."
The final day of the tournament starts with Argentina v Tunisia for 7th-8th place at 10:00 (local), then Venezuela v Iran for 5th-6th place at 12:30, before the medal matches, Russia v Bulgaria for bronze at 15:00, and finally Brazil v Serbia for gold at 17:30.
2013 Men's U23 World Championship Performances
Top Scoring Performances
29 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
28 - Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Venezuela (October 6)
26 - Mohamed Arbi Ben Abdallah of Tunisia v Egypt (October 7)
26 - Pablo Kukartsev of Argentina v Bulgaria (October 11)
24 - Lincoln Alexander Williams of Australia v Venezuela (October 8)
22 - Mojtaba Mirzajanpour of Iran v Tunisia (October 12)
21 - Mohamed Arbi Ben Abdallah of Tunisia v Argentina (October 6)
21 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Argentina (October 7)
21 - Pablo Kukartsev of Argentina v Brazil (October 7)
Top Blocking Performances
10 - Srecko Lisinac of Serbia v Bulgaria (October 12)
7 - Reza Ghara of Iran v Tunisia (October 12)
7 - Matheus Cunda of Brazil v Russia (October 12)
6 - Ivan Postemsky of Argentina v Brazil (October 7)
6 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Bulgaria (October 9)
5 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Dominican Republic (October 6)
5 - Saman Faezi of Iran v Mexico (October 7)
5 - Omar Hassan of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
5 - Ivan Demakov of Russia v Iran (October 8)
5 - Matheus Cunda of Brazil v Egypt (October 8)
5 - Krasimir Georgiev of Bulgaria v Argentina (October 11)
Top Blocking Performances by Team
18 - Serbia v Bulgaria (October 12)
15 - Russia v Iran (October 8)
15 - Bulgaria v Argentina (October 11)
15 - Brazil v Russia (October 12)
13 - Iran v Mexico (October 7)
13 - Iran v Tunisia (October 12)
Top Serving Performances
6 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
3 - Mojtaba Mirzajanpour of Iran v Mexico (October 7)
3 - Dmitry Kovalev of Russia v Venezuela (October 7)
3 - Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Russia (October 11)
3 - Kervin Martin Pinerua Urbina of Venezuela v Argentina (October 12)
3 - Dmitry Kovalev of Russia v Brazil (October 12)
Top Serving Performances by Team
8 - Egypt v Dominican Republic (October 11)
7 - Russia v Mexico (October 6)
7 - Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
6 - Tunisia v Argentina (October 6)
6 - Russia v Venezuela (October 7)
6 - Serbia v Mexico (October 8)
Highest Scorers by day
28 - Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Venezuela (day 1, October 6)
29 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (day 2, October 7)
24 - Lincoln Alexander Williams of Australia v Venezuela (day 3, October 8)
19 - Kervin Martin Pinerua Urbina of Venezuela v Mexico (day 4, October 9)
26 - Pablo Kukartsev of Argentina v Bulgaria (day 5, October 11)
22 - Mojtaba Mirzajanpour of Iran v Tunisia (day 6, October 12)
Highest Set Score
30-28 Australia v Venezuela (3rd set, October 8)
30-28 Bulgaria v Tunisia (1st set, October 8)
Highest Scoring Matches
193 - Brazil def Argentina 3-2 (19-21, 16-21, 22-20, 21-17, 19-17) day 2, October 7
179 - Tunisia def Egypt 3-2 (21-19, 21-17, 18-21, 19-21, 15-7) day 2, October 7
178 - Argentina def Tunisia 3-2 (21-14, 21-18, 13-21, 19-21, 16-14) day 1, October 6
168 - Venezuela def Australia 3-1 (21-15, 21-13, 28-30, 21-19) day 3, October 8