Lausanne, Switzerland, July 10, 2013 - We already know four countries that will be represented in the Finals of the 24th FIVB Volleyball World League, but there are still two tickets up for grabs in the seventh and final week of the Intercontinental Round.
In Group A, three of the four top teams from 2012 are still in contention for a place in the Finals: defending champions Poland, last year’s finalists USA and the team that finished fourth last season, Bulgaria.
In Pool B, Olympic champions Russia can do no more than sit and watch as Germany look to pull off a smash and grab raid to wrestle the final ticket from the grasps of the volleyball giants at the last possible moment.
Already guaranteed their place in the Finals, which take place from July 17 to 21 in Mar del Plata, are hosts Argentina, record nine-time winners Brazil, eight-time champions Italy and the surprise qualifier - Canada. In booking a spot in the Finals, the North Americans have already achieved their best ever World League result.
Poland’s greatest achievement in this competition came last year, when they claimed their first ever World League title. This season, the Poles appeared to have thrown away any hopes of successfully defending their title with four defeats early on in the tournament. However, the team including top spiker Bartosz Kurek refused to stop fighting. Four wins in a row later, Poland will travel to Varna in Bulgaria (14 points) on Friday and Saturday for a dramatic showdown with the hosts. At stake: one ticket for the Finals. Two clear away wins (3-0 or 3-1) would guarantee Poland (13 points) a trip to Argentina.
“We know what to expect in Bulgaria and we are prepared for that,” said Poland’s captain Marcin Mozdzonek. His coach Andrea Anastasi added: “Now the door is open to the Finals and we are back where we started the World League. We have many things to improve and have to keep fighting. I don't know what is going to happen. We face two incredibly difficult matches in Bulgaria.” The momentum is on the side of the Poles going into the deciding weekend, as Bulgaria lost their last two games against Brazil. Bulgaria’s coach Camillo Placi was very coy about his team’s prospects: “It is a tough pool, but we still have a chance.”
Should the two teams come away with one win each, USA (12 points) could still be in with a shout. However, their final Intercontinental Round matches on Saturday and Sunday are against the toughest imaginable opponent, Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. For US coach John Speraw, the emphasis in the final two games is on learning: “Now we have to work. We are close, but it is still not the level that I want. We have to serve better, we have to pass the ball better and we have to keep working hard until we do.”
One outfit that has already learned a lot is the young German team, which spectacularly overcame Russia 3-2 in the last round of matches. This was enough to keep alive hopes of qualifying for the Finals for the team that this year is without top star Georg Grozer and the experienced Björn Andrae.
To repeat last year’s achievement and make it into the Finals, Germany (14 points) must first secure two clear wins (3-0 or 3-1) against impressive World League debutants Iran in the melting pot that is Teheran on Friday and Saturday. Should the Germans pull off this coup, then Olympic champions Russia (19 points), who are currently second in the group, would miss out on a place in the World League Finals – just as they did in 2012.
Captain Jochen Schöps: “We beat Russia, and now obviously have our sights set on being successful in Iran too. That will not be easy though.” No wonder: after all, a place in the Finals of the pinnacle of volleyball is up for grabs.
LIVE SCOREBOX | WEEK 7
Top Scoring Performances
31 – Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Germany (June 30)
30 – Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Germany (June 29)
29 – Nikolay Pavlov of Russia v Germany (July 5)
28 – Ivan Zaytsev of Italy v Russia (June 21)
28 – Wytze Kooistra of Netherlands v Canada (May 31)
27 – Bartosz Kurek of Poland v Argentina (June 28)
27 – Ivan Zaytsev of Italy v Germany (June 9)
Top Blocking Performances
6 – Nikolay Apalikov of Russia v Cuba (June 28)
6 – Dragan Stankovic of Serbia v Iran (June 21)
6 – Holt Maxwell of USA v France (June 14)
6 – Andrey Aschchev of Russia v Serbia (June 14)
6 – Frederic Winters of Canada v Korea (June 14)
6 – Emanuele Birarelli of Italy v Germany (June 9)
6 – Park Sang-Ha of Korea v Japan (June 1)
Blocking Performances by Team
20 – Iran v Serbia (June 23)
17 – USA v Poland (July 5)
16 – Bulgaria v Argentina (June 22)
16 – Italy v Russia (June 21)
16 – Italy v Germany (June 9)
7 – Alexandre Ferreira of Portugal v Finland (June 1)
6 – Ivan Zaytsev of Italy v Cuba (June 14)
Serving Performances by Team
11 - Russia v Serbia (June 14)
10 – USA v Argentina (June 8)
9 – France v Bulgaria (June 7)
9 – Portugal v Finland (June 1)
Scorer by Round
Week 1: Wytze Kooistra of Netherlands, 28 (v Canada)
Week 2: Ivan Zaytsev of Italy, 27 (v Germany)
Week 3: Tatsuya Fukuzawa of Japan, 24 (v Finland)
Week 4: Ivan Zaytsev of Italy, 28 (v Russia)
Week 5: Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia, 30 (v Germany)
Week 6: Nikolay Pavlov of Russia, 29 (v Germany)
Week 1: Netherlands v Portugal, 36-34
Week 2: Bulgaria v France, 31-29
Week 3: USA v France, 30-28
Week 4: Russia v Italy, 30-28
Week 5: Iran v Italy, 32-30
Week 6: Portugal v Korea, 32-34
Week 1: Finland v Portugal, 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12) – 219 points
Week 2: Brazil v Poland, 3-2 (28-26, 25-22, 23-25, 20-25, 15-10) – 219 points
Week 3: USA v France, 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 30-28, 15-9) – 226 points
Week 4: Serbia v Iran, 3-2 (26-24, 25-23,17-25, 14-25, 18-16) - 213 points
Week 5: Portugal v Japan 2-3 (25-22, 23-25, 30-28, 22-25, 10-15) 225 points
Week 6: Poland v USA (25-22, 19-25, 13-25, 30-28, 18-16) 221 points
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