Cordoba, Argentina, July 23, 2010 – Last year’s World League silver medallists Serbia claimed the last semifinal spot of the 2010 edition after beating hosts Argentina 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 28-26) at a packed Orfeo Superdomo Stadium on Friday.
Sasa Starovic topped the Serbian scoring with 15 points while Facundo Conte and Federico Pereyra were the best scorers for Argentina with 10 points each.
With a crucial semifinal spot at stake, both teams knew that this was “the match” of the competition and the first set started accordingly, with both teams sizing each other up. However, it was Serbia who took the first TTO advantage 8-5 thanks to excellent blocking and some errors on the part of the home side. Argentina coach Javier Weber called his own time out seeing his side down 13-8 and the Serbian spikes and blocking working too well for Argentina. A second time out helped Argentina find some momentum and gaining in confidence but in the end the points difference proved too much when Nikola Kovacevic spiked home his 5th point of the set.
The second set started again point-by-point before Dragan Stankovic, Kovacevic and Marko Podrascanin started to find their range. Conte tried his best to keep Argentina in touch but the Serbia offensive line was far too strong wrapping up the set by a commanding seven points.
Facing the possibility of exciting the tournament in front of their home fans, Argentina came out of for the third set all fired up realizing they needed to raise their game to keep their semifinal hopes alive. The early exchanges saw Serbia hold a 10-8 lead before Argentina rode the wave of some amazing support from the 10,000 strong crowd, leveling at 18-18. With Starovic and Conte exchanging spikes, the score edged up towards 25 before a Kovacevic spike, blocked out of bounds and a poor service return gave Serbia their cue to celebrate.