Lausanne, Switzerland, June 24, 2014 -
Defending champions Russia started the Intercontinental Round of the FIVB
Volleyball World League with four defeats in pool B, but have now recovered by
winning their last four matches in straight sets.
The last time Russia recorded four consecutive World League wins by a 3-0 scoreline was in 2011, when they beat Germany, Bulgaria and Japan, all twice in straight sets. Their four victories this season came from their 3-0 defeats of Bulgaria in the fourth week and Serbia in the fifth week, when the Russians had home advantage in Surgut.
Serbia, on the other hand, have suffered four defeats in a row in a single World League campaign for the first time since 1998, when Yugoslavia lost their first four matches of the season.
Meanwhile, Argentina are on an impressive run, earning victories in their last six matches in pool D. They beat Germany twice for a six-match winning streak, which is the third time the Argentines have achieved such a feat in the World League, following their seven consecutive wins in 2006 and their eight straight wins in 2011. Argentina are spot on in their campaign this season as they have won four of their last five matches in straight sets.
In the other pool D match, France kept up their momentum as they beat Japan twice and have now won 12 of their last 13 World League matches. Japan, on the other hand, have taken only 11 of the 48 sets they have played so far this season. France are on nine wins in 10 matches this season, while Japan are still looking for their first victory after 10 matches.
Brazil and Poland produced one victory each in their two matches. Poland drew first blood on the Brazilians, who suffered their sixth defeat of the season. The last time Brazil suffered at least six losses was in 1995, when they lost eight times. The defeats this season came uncharacteristically for the Brazilian squad, who are usually consistent in their World League campaigns. Somehow, however, the Brazilians managed to turn things around and produced a 3-0 win against the Polish team on Sunday to end their opponent's seven-match unbeaten run, which is their best home record in the World League since 2007.
After earning six straight victories, Italy dropped four successive matches in the fourth and fifth weeks. The Italians still top pool A, however. Iran recorded a straight-sets victory in their first match against Italy.
Bulgaria, meanwhile, finally ended their losing streak, simultaneously ending the unbeaten run of the United States. In their earlier encounter, the United States had grabbed their seventh win. The last time the US started with seven victories was in 2000, when they recorded 10 victories to open the season. The Bulgarian triumph on Saturday became only the United States’ second home defeat in their last 11 World League matches. Bulgaria were also their opponents in their 3-1 home defeat in June 2013.
Belgium and Finland produced a draw in their two meetings in pool C, each team winning one match. Belgium suffered only their third defeat of the season and their second on home turf, after their 3-2 loss against Canada in week 3.
After sharing victories with Canada, Australia have already surpassed their set-win record in their only previous World League campaign, where they won a total of five sets in 12 Intercontinental Round matches. The Australians have won 14 sets this season. Canada, however, lost their third Intercontinental Round match of the season, in contrast with their 2013 record where they only lost two matches in the same round.
In pool E, the Czech Republic prevailed in a five-setter against the Korean side, as the Czechs got their first away win in this World League season. Then Korea found a way to ease their misery with a straight sets win over the Czech Republic in their second match, making them the first Asian opponent to hand the Czech team a defeat in the World League.
The Netherlands and Portugal also shared points in the fifth week of World League action, with a straight-sets win by the Netherlands on Saturday followed by a tiebreaker win by Portugal on Sunday. The Dutch team have won seven of their last nine matches on the road, while Portugal have won their fifth match of the season. The Portuguese squad have already won more World League matches this season than in 29 matches previously.
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