Lausanne, Switzerland, July 9, 2014 – As Group 1 takes a breather this weekend, the action heats up in Group 2 in Sydney, Australia, deciding which team will join the five teams already set to meet in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World League Finals in the Italian city of Florence.
Hosts Australia and pool winners Belgium, France and the Netherlands will swing into high gear as the battle unfolds in the group stage final on July 11 and 12, which secures the main draw slot against top teams Italy, Iran, Brazil, USA and Russia from July 16 to 20.
The semifinals will feature knockout clashes between Australia and the Netherlands, and France and Belgium.
Australia and the Netherlands will meet for the first time in the World League, but have met on three occasions elsewhere - twice at the Sydney 2000 and once at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games – the Dutch team winning all three matches in straight sets.
France and Belgium will also be playing each other for the first time in the World League, but have previously met in the World Championship qualification tournament, where the Belgians won in a five-setter.
· Australia finished fourth in Pool C but qualified for the Finals as hosts of the tournament – their five wins in the World League all came this season.
· Australia lost all four matches against Belgium in Pool C, but the Netherlands can be their first scalp from the Low Countries.
· Australia have a 50 per cent winning record in their six home matches, including the last two matches against Canada last week in Sydney. The Australians have a chance to make it three in a row in the semifinal.
· Of the four countries in the Group 2 Finals, only the Netherlands have won the World league before, which was in 1996. The Dutch could become only the sixth nation with 150 World League wins if they manage to win the Group 2 Finals.
· The Netherlands will rely on Dick Kooy, who is the only Dutchman ranked in the top three of a single statistical category in Group 2 this season, where he is second in spiking with a 55.56 per cent success rate.
· Belgium and France are the only two nations in Pools A to E who have managed to win atleast two sets in 11 of their 12 World League matches.
· As Pool C winners, Belgium claimed seven victories and suffered five defeats. Three losses came against Finland, the only European opponent they have faced in the World League so far.
· Belgium will become the fourth nation with a top six finish in their debut season after Cuba, Russia and the Czech Republic, if they manage to reach the Group 1 Finals.
· Belgium seem to have difficulty winning five-set matches as they have lost all four five-setters they have played in the World League.
· France have won a total of 33 sets in the World League this season and have collected 30 points, which is more that any other team this campaign.
· France will set an outright record in a single campaign if they grab two victories this weekend.
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