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Greek Volleyball is riding a wave of popularity and confidence following a stunning 2004 where the menís team finished in fifth place both in the World League and the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.

Greeceís World League performance was not only a fantastic result for a youthful team that played with skill and exuberance all the way but they showed soon after, in front of their home fans that it wasnít a one-hit wonder as they played out of their skins to reach the quarterfinals on their first Olympics only to be on the wrong side of one of the most amazing comebacks in Olympic history.

With Greece leading USA 2-1 and morale sky-high, they started the fourth set with a six-point-streak to lead 6-0. With the score at 20-12 for Greece, USA began the unthinkable. An unbelievable 9-1 point-rally - led by Ryan Millar and Thomas Hoff- tied the scores at 21-21. The Greeks were shell shocked by this and gave up the set to see the match into the tiebreaker.

The scenario was repeated in the tiebreaker. Greece led 12-9 and needed only three points to win. However, the US once again turned things around. They tied the score at 12-12, while the Greek side were unable to grab the biggest win in their history despite being the first team to reach match-point. USA kept their nerve and celebrated a thrilling 17-15 victory in a match that lasted two hours and 14 minutes.

Now with that behind them, Greece will be hoping to build further on an incredible 2004 where they moved from 13th to 8th on the FIVB world rankings. And despite a change in coach with Charitonidis Konst coming in for Stelios Prosalikas, all of the Olympic squad are returning to the World League so once again Greek fans will be counting on inspirational captain Marios Giourdas and heavy hitters Andrej Kravarik, Vassilis Kournetas, Konstantinos Christofidelis, Antonis Tsakiropoulos and Sotiris Pantaleon.

It was a physical education instructor from Athens, Anastasios Lefkadites, who was the first to teach Volleyball in Greece in 1922, but Greece was quick to affiliate itself with the FIVB, just two years after its founding in 1947 when in 1949, the country joined the sport's governing body. Three years later Greece played the very first international match against France in Paris. Although they lost 3-1 the Greeks played well, prompting a positive comment from a French newspaper, which said: "The Greeks surprised with their excellent brio, wit and artfulness." Today Greece continues to exhibit these qualities. Despite the early start, a systematic development of the sport in the country had to wait until the foundation of the Hellenic Volleyball Federation in 1970.

In 1986, Greece qualified for the first time for the World Championship and placed 13th in France. Next year, the national team achieved a major success and won the bronze at the European Championship in Belgium. In 1994, Greece hosted the World Championship in its capital, Athens, and achieved a valuable sixth place before becoming one of many surprise packages at the 2002 World Championship in Argentina, finishing a solid seventh and sending a strong signal about the determination of their preparation for the 2004 Olympics.

Greece joined the elite teams in the World League in 1993 and so far participated in eight editions of the competition. In 2001 they returned to the prestigious League for the first time since 1998 and almost made it to the finals before finishing ninth. The following year, the team, whose objective was obviously Athens 2004, produced effective and entertaining Volleyball before finishing ninth again while in 2003 and 2004, Greece further improved to finish seventh and fifth respectively.

In the 2005 World League, Greece will meet Serbia & Montenegro, Argentina and Poland in Pool C.

Overall Standings for Greece
World League Played Total Matches played Win Lost % Wins
8 119 38 81 31.9