Lausanne, Switzerland, June 21, 2010 – World League 2009 bronze medallists Russia remain as the only unbeaten team in the 2010 World League after two wins over Finland while Serbia suffered their first defeat at the hands of Italy as the Intercontinental Round completed the third weekend of six on Sunday.
Russia lead Pool C with six wins from six after comprehensive 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-18) and 3-1 (25-18, 25-16, 18-25, 25-18) victories over Finland in Kaliningrad. “We are playing quite well now but I am afraid it will be not enough when we meet with the best teams in the world,” Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli said. “I am eager to go to the Final Round of the 2010 FIVB Would League because I want my players to get to know what it means to play at the highest level." Meanwhile Olympic champions USA, playing at home for the first time, consolidated their position in second with 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 11-25, 25-14) and 3-1 (25-19, 25-15, 14-25, 25-21) victories over Egypt. It was the first World League encounter between the two teams.
With the winners of each pool and the best-placed second team joining hosts Argentina in the 2010 World League Final Round, due to be held in Cordoba from July 21 – 25, defending champions Brazil gained the outright lead in Pool A with wins four: 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-20- 25-21) and five: 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-19) over winless Korea in Rio de Janeiro. “We played really better today,” Brazil captain Giba said after the second match, Brazil’s final match at home. “We showed that we have a great group because we changed the players and the level kept the same. Now we have to focus a lot. We will have to travel and play the Netherlands, South Korea and Bulgaria in three weeks.” Bulgaria moved ahead of the Netherlands into second with four wins and two defeats after beating the Dutch twice in straight sets (25-19, 25-22, 25-23) and (25-21, 25-20, 25-22) in Apeldoorn. “I definitely did not expect to win two matches in straight sets here,” Bulgaria team captain Vladimir Nikolov said. “We are still growing as a team, our preparation was quite short. The difference was the number of unforced errors on the Dutch side.”
In Pool B, last year’s silver medallists Serbia suffered their first defeat of the competition, going down to Italy in a five-set thriller (21-25, 25-20, 25-18, 20-25, 15-13) in Florence having recorded an equally intense 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 12-25, 15-12) win on Friday in Montecatini. Sasa Starovic’s 18 and 26 points saw him move to the top of the Best Scorer list for the tournament with 116 points however, Michal Lasko was Italy’s hero top scoring over the weekend with 45 points, including a weekend high of 29 in the second match. Serbia lead the pool by one point but both teams boast a 5-1 win-loss record. The battle at the bottom of the group saw France and China split their two matches in La Reunion, winning their first matches of the campaign with France victorious on Friday 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 27-25) and China reversing the result on Saturday 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22). "Of course it’s our first win in this FIVB World League 2010, so we are very happy,” China captain Shen Qiong said after the second match. “Our reception and block was better and we gained on had the experience from the first match."
In Pool D, Cuba suffered their first defeat of the campaign losing to Poland in the second game between the two teams in Havana in straight sets (27-25, 25-23, 25-12), having won the first match on Friday 3-2 (19-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-23, 15-10). Poland’s Argentine coach Daniel Castelani said he was impressed with what he saw of the Cuban team. "I saw the Cubans last year and said in Poland that this team along with Brazil are one step above the other teams. The power in the attack and the Cuban service makes it one strong candidate for the [World League] title and the World Championship in Italy.” Cuba lead the group by one point over Germany who recorded their third and fourth wins of the tournament by beating Argentina in Catamarca 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-22) and 3-1 (34-32, 25-18, 19-25, 30-28).
The FIVB World League Intercontinental Round continues this week, starting on Friday with Egypt hosting Russia and Germany at home to Cuba. Both games start at 18.00 (GMT).
For full results, photos and statistics click here