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MATCH INFO

Serbia fall under pressure as USA advance to Final Six


US players celebrate their 3-1 win over Serbia in Belgrade

Belgrade, Serbia, July 6, 2014 - In the last match of the 2014 World League Pool B, USA beat Serbia 3-1 (25-21, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20) and advanced to the Final Six to take place in Florence later this month. In front of 7,600 cheering fans of the Pionir Hall in Belgrade, the home side failed to deal with the pressure this game brought upon their shoulders. 

Key points:

• Sealing a 3-1 victory over Serbia, USA capped on top of Pool B with 24 points ahead of Russia (24 points also but with a lower win-loss set ratio), Serbia (20) and Bulgaria (4). 

• USA join Russia, who earlier registered a straight-sets win over Bulgaria, as Pool B finalists to progress to the 2014 World League Final Six in Florence (16-20 July). Both teams will meet Pool A leaders and hosts Italy, Iran (second in group A) and Brazil (third) plus the Group 2 Final Four winners to be decided in Sydney next week (11-13 July).

• USA won nine of their World League 12 matches and lost three of them (3-2 against Bulgaria, 3-0 against Russia, 3-0 against Serbia yesterday).

• USA and Serbia met seven times in World League history with USA leading 4-3. They also played the 2008 Final, won 3-1 by USA.


It was an even start of the match for both teams, and there was a frequent change of lead in the scoreboard all the way through the second technical timeout (16-14 to the USA). After the break, Serbia's game completely fell apart and the US team easily wrapped the first set up at 25-21.

The second set started pretty much in the same way as the first one, and the visitors went to the first technical timeout leading 8-7. Then, USA started building an advantage which increased to four points (13-9). However, a powerful killing spike by Uros Kovacevic, followed by several serving bombes of his brother Nikola, saw Serbia turn the scores around in their favour (14-13). This was the turning point of the second set, as the home side, carried by their cheering fans of the Pionir Hall, stormed to a 25-20 win to tie the match 1-1.

The crowd saw a great battle in the third set, as both teams fought hard for every ball. It was a point-by-point game all the way through the second technical timeout (with USA leading 16-15). The visiting side increased their advantage, as Serbia made too many unforced mistakes. At 23-19 for USA, Serbia’s coach Kolakovic called for a timeout. It served well for the home side as they managed to come close at 22-23, and then tie the score at 24-24. In the key moments, the US block worked better and stopped Serbia’s attack at 26-25 to score one point and take a 2-1 lead in sets.

The Serbian team struggled a lot in the fourth set. They managed to stay close to their opponents until the first TTO (8-7 to the USA), but after that they felt their pressure and started losing focus. The visitors widened the lead before the second technical break to three points (16-13), and continued at the same pace until the end. Serbia could not find any reply against an inspired US game. USA celebrated a well-deserved 25-20 set-win and a 3-1 victory to qualify for the finals in Florence.

Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia and Matthew Anderson of the USA topped the scorers’ chart with 19 points each. 

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