Lausanne, Switzerland, June 30, 2014 –
Cuba weathered two five-setters on the sixth week to win the Group 3 final of
the FIVB Volleyball World League, while the teams in Groups 1 and 2 are still
contending for the qualifying spots as the Intercontinental Round is in its
Cuba withstood a difficult Final Four but were rewarded in the end with a title in Group 3. The Cubans prevailed in both five-set matches – their first five-setters this season in the World League – against China in the semifinal and Turkey on the final match. Cuba came back twice in the final against the tough Turkish squad to win the final with a 16-14 score in the final set. China finished third in Group 3 final four after a 3-1 victory over Slovakia.
In Group 1, Iran and Serbia made double victories in Pool A and B, respectively. Meanwhile, Russia and USA had to split victories in their two matches in Pool B on the sixth week.
Iran made a valiant effort of taking part for only the second year and yet qualifying for the finals despite facing the toughest pool contenders – 18 World League victors such as nine-time winners Brazil, eight-time winners Italy and title-holders Poland. Iran have also made a team record of wining four matches in a row. Poland, on the other hand, doubled their total number of World League losses against Asian teams, going from two defeats to four. Their losses against Iran were their first defeats against an Asian opposition since 2008.
On their first sixth week meeting, USA claimed their third win against the defending champions Russia this season. Russia made a comeback on the next match with a convincing 3-0 win. USA committed 24 errors, accounting to almost one-third of the 75 total points of Russia in the match.
Serbia felt a sigh of relief as they snapped a four-match losing streak – their longest losing run in the World League since 2001-2002 – with a pair of straight sets victory over Bulgaria. Bulgaria conceded their 400th set loss in the matches against Serbia – their set balance in the World League now is 500 wins to 402 losses.
In Group 2, Belgium scored two victories over hosts Australia in Pool C. The Belgians did not look fatigued by the long travel from their country to Adelaide as shown by the performance of Simon Van De Voorde, who had five blocks on their 3-0 win against Australia on Saturday – equalling the combined output by the Australian players. This victory was the second straight-set-win of Belgium in World League history. Their first had also come against Australia earlier this season, in their first ever World League match.
Also in Pool C, Finland and Canada drew on their matches, both on 3-0 scorelines. The victory of Finland on Friday was their first straight-set-win after 15 matches, their last 3-0 win was against Korea set in June 2013. Canada bounced back on Saturday with their 13th straight-set-win and their fourth against the Finns.
Japan finally broke into the win column in Pool D after their 3-2 win against Germany on Sunday – making all 28 teams in this season’s World League to have at least one match victory. This was the first win of Japan against Germany in the World League since 2011, ending a five-match winning streak against the Germans. Earlier, Germany won in straight sets, achieving their 10th win against an Asian opposition.
France booked their place in the Group 2 Final Four in Sydney, by their 3-1 defeat of Argentina on Sunday in Pool D. Argentina, however, handed France its second loss in the competition earlier on Friday. This was the seventh consecutive win of Argentina until their streak ended on Sunday with the defeat against France.
Netherlands survived two cardiac five-setters against Korea in Pool E and now have an equal record in five-set matches of 26 wins and 26 losses in the World League. Netherlands had 23 block points on Sunday, a record for a single team in a match in this season of the World League.
Czech Republic triumphed over Portugal with a 3-2 win on Friday and a 3-1 win on Saturday. The Czechs are still in contention in Pool E. The 3-2 win marked the fourth consecutive time Czech Republic won a match with a five-set scoreline, before they beat again Portugal a day later.
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