World League 2004 Press & News WEEK 6 (09-11 July)  
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Bulgaria seal final Final Round spot

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 11, 2004 – World number 15 Bulgaria sealed their spot in the 2004 World League Final Round joining hosts Italy, defending champions Brazil and Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro after recording two wins over Japan in the final round of the Intercontinental Round, which concluded on Sunday.

Needing nothing less than two victories in Varna on the final weekend, the Bulgarians showed great concentration to dismiss Japan, who didn’t win a single match in Pool B, in straight sets 25-22, 25-17, 25-19 on Saturday and 25-22, 25-19, 25-19 on Sunday.
Pic: Bulgaria were clinical in their two victories over Japan in the final round
Bulgaria’s closest rivals were France, who won both their games against Poland 3-1 (22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 27-25) and 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-20) in Katowice to finish tied on points with Bulgaria, however the Tricolours’ Set Ratio was inferior.

“We did our job and in Rome we can be only stronger,” Bulgarian coach Brunko Gavrilov said. “We will face three of the strongest teams in the world and anything we do will be a success for us.”

“Today is a beautiful evening for Bulgarian Volleyball,” Nikolay Ivanov the Bulgarian captain said. “We had some fluctuation in our play but we made it smooth in the end. Japan was better than yesterday, but it is the final result that matters.”

With Pool A and Pool C having confirmed their representatives in the Final Round in Week 5, the final weekend of the Intercontinental Round saw both pools sort out their final order.

In Pool A, world champions Brazil finished on top unbeaten after beating bottom-placed Portugal 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-23) and 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15) in Porto while Greece claimed second place despite splitting their matches with Spain in Patras, winning 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 16-25, 25-14, 15-13) before losing their last match 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-13, 25-17).

Last year’s runner’s up Serbia and Montenegro finished the Intercontinental Round with two victories at home over Italy 3-1 (26-24, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20) and 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-18) to finish on top of the pool with only two defeats above Italy and Cuba, who collected two precious victories over China 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-22) and 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-18) in Havana.

Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, Brazil and Bulgaria now head to Rome for the three-day World League Final Round which starts on July 16. German
PREVIEW
Three teams still in with chance to claim final Final Round spot

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 09, 2004 – Three Pool B teams – Bulgaria, France and Poland – will fight it out for the final vacancy in the 2004 World League Final Round when the sixth and final week of the Intercontinental Round begins on Friday.

With each pool winner joining hosts Italy in the Final Round, which starts on July 16 in Rome, defending champions Brazil and last year’s runner’s up Serbia and Montenegro confirmed their spots in the final phase in Week 5 in Pool A and Pool C respectively.

Pic: France and Poland both won one match each (3-2, 2-3) when they played each other in Week 4

But in Pool B, with two matches each to play this weekend, Bulgaria and France sit level in first place with seven wins and three defeats while Poland remain in contention for the top spot with six victories and four losses.

Bulgaria are favourites to progress to the Final Round due to the fact that this week they host Japan, who have yet to win a game in the competition,. Bulgaria won twice in Japan in Week 4 (3-1 and 3-2) and need two more victories from this weekend’s matches which start at 17:30 GMT on Saturday and on Sunday to secure the top spot.

Meanwhile Poland hosts France with their first game on Friday at 16.50 GMT and the second match at 13:00 GMT on Saturday with France needing two victories to put any pressure on Bulgaria. However, France need Bulgaria to lose a match to win the pool while Poland need two victories and hope Bulgaria lose both their matches to claim the top spot.

The other two pools play out the final weekend with Greece and Spain playing for second spot in Pool A at 18:00 GMT on Friday and Sunday in Patra while Pool A winners Brazil travel to Portugal for two games at 16:00 GMT on Saturday and Sunday.

Pool C sees Serbia and Montenegro host Italy in an exciting duel where both sides still have a chance of winning the pool. However, since Italy are the hosts of the Final Round, Serbia and Montenegro have secured their pass to the next phase. Their matches are at 18:00 GMT on Saturday and Sunday. The other Pool C match sees Cuba host China in a battle for the minor places at 00:40 GMT on Saturday and Sunday. German