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Argentina and Yugoslavia undefeated to quarterfinals
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 7, 2002 - The 2002 Men's Volleyball World Championship has already produced thrills and surprises, and going into the quarterfinals, starting Wednesday, only the brave are prepared to speculate on who might take the title.
Hosts Argentina and Olympic champions Yugoslavia lead the charge as the only teams yet unbeaten in the tournament. Other qualifiers are defending champion Italy, 2002 World League winner Russia, Brazil, France, Greece and Portugal - a young and talented team appearing in the first World Championship since the 1950's.
Argentina is already a 'winner', riding on a wave of euphoria that has seen the team slip through to the quarterfinals with an aura of invincibility, urged on by massive support from their fans in the stadium and a national media that in Tuesday's newspapers described them as "magic" and their match against titleholders Italy as "total ecstasy". 
Argentina has been playing to capacity audiences here at the Luna Pack stadium in the capital, while host broadcaster ESPN has been delivering coverage to more than 200 countries.
All tournament favorites, except Cuba, who are breaking in a new generation of players, have made it through to the quarterfinals. But for Italy, going for their fourth consecutive world title in this four-yearly event, their task has not been easy and they have been forced to do without their elegant wing spiker Samuele Papi, who was injured in a second round match. Italy also lost to Argentina and had a difficult 3-2 win over Bulgaria and now they face a formidable Brazil in their quarterfinal clash, a replay of the semifinal in 1998, when Brazil pushed them to five sets before conceding defeat.
Brazil, second to Russia in the 2002 World League, set a perfect record in the second round, winning against Czech Republic, France and Netherlands in straight sets. They are making good use of their newest celebrity, the talented young Andre Nascimento, who leads the Top Spikers' ranking after six matches. Nascimento has been grabbing the limelight from the usually dominant and very charismatic Gilberto Godoy Filho (Giba). With Nalbert Bitencourt and setter Maurico Lima (who played his 40th World Championship match in his career last Sunday) as the experienced players, Brazil is definitely a medals favorite. 
Argentina faces France in the quarterfinals and will be a formidable opponent when supported by thousands of euphoric fans. In addition, their hero, "Prince" Marcos Milinkovic, is in deadly accurate form and is well supported by his teammates.
The French side, with their elegant and creative style of play can be a strong opponent, particularly if they field Frantz Granvorka, one of the most feared attackers at international level.
Portugal, now coached by Cuban Juan Diaz has made a fantastic showing so far, with their young and talented team, including clawing their way back to win a vital match against Spain after being two sets down. Portugal won their berth by defeating Poland and has already made history with their performance so far in the championship.
Greece won their quarterfinals place by defeating the USA in a five-set thriller and with their best result ever, can go into their match against powerful Russia without any pressure. In a repeat of this year's World League, Russia bounced back after a bad start to the tournament when they lost in the first round to Bulgaria and France.
Yugoslavia has coasted through the tournament looking confident and may be ready to pick up the one title missing in their list of awards. The Olympic and current European Champion only lost two sets in the six matches played so far here at the World Championship. The question will be if the team can maintain this high level until the critical final. In 1998, Yugoslavia played fantastic volleyball until the final, but lost the gold medal match against Italy in straight sets.

Argentina colors it sky blue by downing Italy; Greece qualifies
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 6, 2002 - Host team Argentina colored the Luna Park stadium sky blue and white on Sunday night when they charged past title holders Italy in their final second round match at the Men's World Championship here in the country's capital.
Argentina charged onto the court like a team inspired to face three-times world champion Italy, and in front of a packed stadium, humbled the title defender and set their own aspirations on fire for the final stages of the tournament.
The blue and whites waltzed through the first set maintaining a five to six point lead throughout the first set, to the euphoric chanting and stamping of the capacity crowd.
Italy, playing without their elegant wing spiker Samuele Papi, who badly turned an ankle in a match Saturday, were rattled from the opening ball.
Brimming with confidence and enjoying national adoration for their performance so far at this tournament, they wrapped up the first set in just 20 minutes, leaving Italian coach Andre Anastasi's lineup with work to do to recover their lost ground.
But what appeared to be a foregone conclusion in the opening minutes of the match quickly turned into a thriller as Italy took control of the second set. Argentina whittled away at Italy's lead and drew even at 2-all before several errors by Argentina put Italy on the scoreboard for the second set.
By now, Argentina's galleon figure, giant number one "Prince" Marcos Milinkovic was in form and urging the spectators into a frenzy.
Italy's defense tightened but it was difficult to stop the host team who edged two points in front to 10-8 in the third. Running on pure adrenalin, Argentina held the lead until an overhead smash by Alessandro Fei leveled the teams at 15-all. Points were traded back and forth but a string of stunning points by Milinkovic, by now running on pure adrenalin, gave Argentina the third set and turned the stadium into a sea of blue and white flags.
By then there was no stopping the blue and whites who were in the box seat at 20-15 in the final set. With every fan in the stadium on their feet, they closed out the match and left qualifiers Italy to face formidable Brazil in the quarterfinals. 
IIn two matches that had no affect on the qualification, Poland defeated Spain and Japan triumphed over Bulgaria in five sets.
Earlier, France slipped into the quarterfinals by defeating Czech Republic 3-1 leaving the Czechs with nothing but a ticket home, while Yugoslavia's victory over USA left Greece with the remaining quarterfinals place. Greece bat China 3-1 and China returns home.
In other early matches Russia beat Portugal 3-0, but both were already qualified, while Brazil, also already qualified, knocked out Netherlands 3-0. 

France qualifies for Q-Finals; Czech Republic empty-handed
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 6, 2002 - France slipped into the quarterfinals of the Men's Volleyball World Championship on Sunday by winning at least two sets from Czech Republic at a Pool J match played in Santa Fe. The French team settled the issue 3-1 leaving the Czechs with nothing but a ticket home.
Both teams started nervously and not without errors, but the French took control in the second set, with improvement in it's wing spikers and Laurent Capet adding a valuable four points. The Czechs attempted to get back in the action in the third set and although they made some costly errors, they fought to the last point, even though it was clear that qualification had slipped through their fingers. Their Jiri Popelka was again the top scorer of the match with 16 points, while Capet added 13 for France. 
The final vacant place will not be decided until the outcome of the late match between Yugoslavia, already qualified, and hopefuls USA is known.
France will face the winner of the match between hosts Argentina and Italy, to be contested later on Sunday evening here in the Argentine capital, although French Head Coach Phillip Blaine declined to mention who he preferred, saying: "I know they are all very difficult." 
Meanwhile, in Cordoba, the young qualifiers Portugal put up a good first set fight against Russia in their final Pool H match before Russia turned on the kind of heat that won them the 2002 World League in August. The Russians spiked with deadly accuracy and were solid on the net allowing Portugal few loopholes in the remaining sets. Portugal has already delivered their best ever showing at a world championship, despite the loss at the hands of the Russian heavyweights. 
In the day's opening match, Brazil had little trouble taking care of Netherlands 3-0 to spoil Dutch chances of stealing one of the remaining places in the quarterfinals, and then had to sit it out until the day's last matches to discover who they will play in the quarterfinals.
Brazilian setter Mauricio delicately distributed to his players and again Andre Nascimento was again the top scorer for Brazil and the ever-reliable Richard Schuil also adding 12 points for Netherlands.
"It was a difficult match beforehand, but we gave everything and achieved the level we wanted. I hope we can still keep it for the quarterfinals," said Brazil's Nalbert.
Greece conquered China snapping the final berth is if USA defeats Yugoslavia in Salta in their late match. Yugoslavia is until now unbeaten in the tournament.
Later Sunday Argentina meets Italy in the capital and although both teams qualified, they will fight a hard battle, knowing the loser will draw the formidable Brazil in the quarterfinals. Spain and Poland play out their last match and then head home. 

Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Portugal and Yugoslavia qualify
Buenos Aires, Argentina - October 6, 2002 - Hosts Argentina joined Italy, Brazil, Russia, Portugal and Yugoslavia on Saturday in advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2002 Men's World Championship to set the stage for some tense matches in the next round.
The final day of the second round is Sunday, when the other places will be determined.
Earlier, Italy allowed Japan one set in their Pool G clash, but moved swiftly in the fourth to crush the Asian side 25-16 in the fourth set for a 3-1 victory, even without their elegant wing spiker Samuele Papi who was carried off injured in the opening set. Papi leapt for the block and badly twisted his ankle on the way down. The seriousness of Papi's injury is not yet determined, but team doctors indicated he may be out for the rest of the championship.
The three times World Champion wasted a match point at the close of the third set and let Japan briefly back in, but then went on to seal the match and keep alive their hopes of qualification.
For Italy, 23-year-old middle blocker Alessandro Fei scored 25 points from 52 attacks to make the biggest contributions to his team from16 spikes, six block- and three services points. Takahiro Yamamota was top Japanese scorer with 13 points.
Portugal, Brazil, Yugoslavia and Russia who won earlier second round matches, and a euphoric Argentina, who closed the day's matches with a 3-1 win against Bulgaria, all qualified.
Portugal won their berth when they dismissed Poland 3-1 in their late match in Cordoba to settle the two Pool H candidates for the quarterfinals.
"It was a great match and we played very well," said Portugal's middle blocker Ubirajara Pereira. "I am very happy for what we have achieved. We have a lot of talented young players and the future of volleyball in Portugal is assured," he added. This was the first time since 1956 that Portugal has qualified and played for a World Championship.
Argentina had a tough opponent in Bulgaria but they ran up an impressive early lead in the first set before a packed stadium of euphoric fans, stamping their feet and chanting "Argentina, Argentina" in the Luna Park Stadium. "Prince" Marcos Milinkovic had the honor of hammering home the winning point after levitating himself up into the air and bringing down a solid smash that left the Bulgarians flatfooted.
Argentina held the lead in the second set until their 18th point before Bulgaria stopped being intimidated by the crowd, snatched the lead and went on to level 1-set all.
Bulgaria had their chances in the third but continued to make errors that seemed to inspire the home team who went on to go 2-1 up.
Argentina held their own in the fourth set and the crowd was on their feet cheering wildly as Prince Marcos served the ace that vaulted them into the quarterfinals.
Russia's captain Rouslan Olikhver said after their match against Spain that it had not been easy for them. "We didn't start well, but our performance improved throughout the game. We are showing in each match what we are capable of."
Yugoslavia are yet unbeaten in the tournament but their head coach Veselin Vukovic cautioned too much optimism, saying they still haven't reached their top form. "We have to play better in the quarterfinals and the semifinals but tomorrow we have a 'final' against USA," Vukovic said.
Meanwhile in the northern city of Salta, Greece tested formerly unbeaten USA to a tiebreaker that went right down to the wire at 13-all after Greece had had an early 3-
point lead. USA leveled at 14-all, but Greece became the giant killer stealing the match 17-15 in the vital fifth set.


Brazil, Netherlands, Yugoslavia and Russia win early matches; Italy’s Papi injured
Buenos Aires, Argentina October 5– Brazil opened Saturday’s second round matches at the Volleyball World Championship with a resounding straight sets victory over France in their Pool J match at Santa Fe. Unbeaten yet in the round, the Brazilians are virtually assured of a place in the quarterfinals with one match to go.
We are close to the quarterfinals now,” Brazil’s Gustavo Endres said. “Our next opponent, The Czech Republic is theoretically the weakest, but we cannot relax.”
The spirited, 23-year-old wing-spiker Andre Nascimento again played a central role and scored 13 points, the best in the match, but he was well supported by the Brazilian defense, which left few gaps to the French, who looked shaky without the power of Frantz Granvorka, who did not play.
And while Netherlands and the Czech Republic were battling out their five set match in the other Pool J clash, Yugoslavia wrapped up a neat 3-0 victory against China in the northern city of Salta in Pool K in one hour and one minute.
Thanks to four service points at the close of the tiebreaker by their captain Reinder Nummerdor, Netherlands won their Pool J match against the Czechs 3-2 with their Richard Scuil who again dominated the scoring, adding 20 points. Jiri Popelka was top scorer for the Czechs with 16.
Yugoslavia, third in this year’s World League final is as yet unbeaten in the tournament and is mentioned as a title favorite and again it was the lofty Ivan Miljkovic who was top scorer with 14 points.

Russia and Spain fought the early battle of the day in a vicious five-setter in the city of Cordoba, which finally went their way 15-13 in the tiebreaker. All three matches in Pool H have been tiebreaker marathons so far in the second round. The other pair, Poland and Portugal meet later Saturday.
In a later match still in progress, Italy suffered a setback when their elegant wing-spiker Samuele Papi badly twisted his ankle landing after a block and was carried from the court during the opening set against Japan in Buenos Aires. His condition was not yet known.

ulgaria, USA, China, Argentina and  Russia winners second round winners on day one

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 4, 2002 – Title holders Italy had a shakeup at the hands of upstarts Bulgaria in their opening second round match at the Men’s Volleyball World championship when their were forced to a fifth set tiebreaker before taking victory.
In other late action, USA continued on its unbeaten path with a 3-0 victory over China, Russia had to struggle to five sets to take care of Poland and hosts Argentina turned the Luna Park Stadium into a frenzy as they won a tense and exhausting tiebreaker in the fifth set of their match against Japan.
More than 10,200 euphoric fans stamped, cheered and danced as the home team hammered the final point across the net in a match where local hero Marcos “The Prince” Milinkovic was again dominant on the court for the blue and whites.
In other Pool G action, Italy and Bulgaria absolved a vicious match that saw the first set drift to 33-31 for Bulgaria with every point an independent battle. Even the delicate setting of Valero Vermiglio, the power of Hristo Zlatanov and Alessandro Fei or hard talking by coach Andre Anastasi were enough to contain the Bulgarians, flush with confidence after a first round victory over Russia.
Italy scrambled back into the match in the second set, but again Bulgaria too the initiative going up 12-7 in the first half of the third set, from which Italy was unable to recover. Italy scame back to equalize in the fourth, allowing Bulgaria only 18 points and forced the tiebreaker. Then they needed only 14 minutes to close the match against the unpredictable Bulgarians, but it was strenuous ahead of their face-off on Saturday with Japan. Bulgaria’s Vladimir NIkolov notched up 28 points for Bulgaria to be the top scorer, while the elegant Samuele Papi was best scorer for Italy with 22 points.
In their match with China, the USA took the first set 25-23 but China hung on in the second, testing the opposition to 30-28. The third set was easier for the Americans, who allowed the Chinese only 19 points. William Priddy was top scorer with 13 points. US Coach Doug Beal expressed satisfaction with his team, saying they scored the key points at the right time. The USA now faces Greece on Saturday, who went down ingloriously 0-3 to Olympic champions Yugoslavia earlier in the evening.
In a later Pool H match in Cordoba, Russia struggled with Poland who finally went down in a tense tiebreaker to the 2002 World League winners.  Russia meets Spain on Saturday, who were earlier defeated by Portugal 3-2. Hugo Gaspar of Portugal was top scorer, Brazil had an easy 3-0 win over Czech Republic and France, with Frantz Granvorka in fighting form, delivered a tough 3-0 volleyball lesson to the Dutch.

Battle lines drawn and field wide open as second round starts

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 4, 2002 - The second round of the Men's Volleyball World Championship got underway on Friday with Brazil opening the action with a swift and decisive 3-0 victory over Czech Republic that began with a string of aces and ended in their favor in just over one hour.
The Brazilians, second this year in the World League, overcome early nerves and a slip in concentration at the beginning of the third set to deliver a hard lesson to the Czech Republic, now in the hands of Argentine coach Julio Velasco. The Czech setter Petr Zapletal distributed the play well to his team-mates but with just five points to go Brazilian experience won the day and they sealed the set. Young Brazilian Andre Nascimento was the top scorer with 13 points, while the charismatic and usually high scoring Gilberto Godoy Fihlo (Giba) only added one. Jiri Popelka was the top scorer for the Czech Republic with 11 points.
Although Brazil was expected to take first blood in the opening Pool J match in Santa Fe, the group will be tight with both Netherlands and France in good form.
Yugoslavia's match against hopefuls Greece in Pool K at Salta was also a formality with a comfortable 3-0 victory for the Olympic champions in just over
one hour.
Yugoslavia again made good use of their big star Ivan Miljkovic, who chalked up 15 points to be the best scorer. Top scorer for Greece was Marios Gkiourdas.
Yugoslavia and Greece are drawn in a group with the USA, like Yugoslavia, undefeated in the first round, and China, which slipped in as a "lucky loser".
Meanwhile, in Cordoba, European neighbors Spain and Portugal fought a battle of attrition in the opening match in Pool H. Spain took the opener, leaving Portugal with only 19 points and then applied pressure to go two up. Portugal pulled everything out of the bag, snatched the next two sets and forced the tiebreaker, which finally fell their way 15-13.
Meanwhile in the second Pool J match in Santa Fe, a spirited France, including the talented Frantz Granvorka took the first two sets from the Netherlands, allowing the Dutch a mere 16 points in the second. The creative French, enjoying good form at the moment, went on to take the match in style 3-0 with Stephanie Antiga adding 15, but Netherlands captain Reinder Nummerdor finishing top scorer with 16 points.
Play continues with late matches Friday

Pool Previews: Round Two
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 3, 2002 - The second round of the 2002 Men's Volleyball World Championship begins Friday with the competition still wide open. 
Previews for the four individual pools follows:
Pool G, Buenos Aires (Argentina, Italy, Bulgaria, Japan)
Argentina returns to the Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires for the second round of the 2002 Men's World Championship to sold out stadiums and the hopes of thousands of Argentine fans on their shoulders anxious to support their team through to the quarterfinals. But the job wont be easy with other Pool G teams including title holders Italy, Bulgaria, who defeated Russia and Japan, an entry as one of the highest ranked third placed teams in the first round.
Argentina didn't have an easy first round and even with their big star Marcos Milinkovic, who is one of the leading scorers in the competition, they lost a set against Australia, China and Portugal. It proved a minor setback however, and Argentina stayed concentrated enough to claim the three victories needed to return to Luna Park, the home of Argentine volleyball.
Their second round opponents will also be no pushover. Argentina opens its campaign to reach the world's best eight teams against Japan on Friday. Japan can muster very good defense, but it remains to be seen if they have a chance against can find the power to a be an outsider in this group, because of great defense their three power hitting opponents.
Three times World Champion Italy were humbled by upstarts Poland in the first round but the Squadra Azzura will put this behind them in their efforts to top the pool. If they succeed, they will be matched against the second finisher in one of the other pools, and will have their fourth title in their vision.
Bulgaria is a dangerous team for any opponent, and they are already familiar with Luna Park, having played here in the preliminary round. Bulgaria is capable of beating any team, as their match against the Russians illustrated, but they sometimes have difficulty staying focused. Other team in the group will treat them warily.
Pool H, Cordoba (Poland, Portugal, Spain, Russia)
This pool is an all-European affair with Poland, Russia, Spain and Portugal meeting in Cordoba. Russia is the favorite on paper, but their performance in the first round was uninspiring and coach Guennadi Chipouline expressed disappointment in his players. But the Russians must never be dismissed. They scraped into the final four of the World League after a thrashing at the hands of Spain and went on to take the title in August. 
Poland, who slipped into the finals when Korea withdrew and in the first round booked victories over Croatia and Canada and scared Italy by winning 3-2 against the defending World Champion. Playing with nothing to lose, they are the wild card in the group, but have turned on some stunning matches so far. Portugal, too, is playing its best tournament ever, under the guidance of their Cuban coach Jorge Diaz. The last time Portugal participated in a World Championship was in 1956.
Spain reached the last eight at the 1998 World Championship, losing the classification match for the seventh position against Netherlands. The number five of this years World League had to fight hard to reach the second spot in the first round pool E. Spain will open the second round against neighbor Portugal and the result of this match will be very important, because the winner has good chances to advance to the next round.
Pool J, Santa Fe (France, Netherlands, Brazil, Czech Republic)
This is one of the strongest pools in the Championship tournament and should see fine clashes between Brazil and four strong European teams - Netherlands, France and Czech Republic. Brazil had to travel to Santa Fe, because the South American Champion lost against USA in the first round. 
Netherlands surprised by winning all three first round matches in Salta's Pool F, which had been labeled "Group of Death" because no one was prepared to predict the outcome. The Flying Dutchmen" didn't have great results in preparation for this event, losing matches against Canada and Korea. 
France played an inspired first round but star player Frantz Granvorka may be one the bench for the opening match with a suspected injury. The French team, not present at the last two Olympic Games and World Championships, not only defeated Russia but also stayed unbeaten in the first round. France is playing without a lot of mistakes and the team is well balanced. The question will be if it is enough to reach the last eight.
The expectations of Czech Republic were very high after the Argentina's most successful exports, the legendary star-maker of Italy, Julio Velasco, decided to coach the Czech team. They reached the final four of the last two European Championships but went down to Cuba and Netherlands in the preliminaries. A 3-2 victory over Greece at the moment the Greek team was already qualified for the second round prevented a Czech exit. Czech Republic qualified as one of the best third-ranked team and now the pressure is on to deliver a good performance.
Pool K, Salta (USA, Yugoslavia, Greece, China)
Olympic Champion Yugoslavia started among the favorites and sailed through the preliminaries, losing only lost one set in the three first round matches. Yugoslavia has retained their regular lineup, including creative setter Nikola Grbic and power hitter Ivan Miljkovic, top scorer in the World League final round. They also have an impressive record in big Volleyball events and no one will be surprised if Yugoslavia advances to the quarterfinals. 
USA has always been among the best teams in the world, but failed to score great results in the last five to ten years. Here in Argentina coach Doug Beal has a well-balanced team of youth and experience and they grew in confidence after defeating Brazil in the first round.
The remaining qualifier is Greece, busy building a team for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. They booked an impressive straight sets victory against Cuba. China can be happy to be among the best 16 teams of the world. The Asian team will probably not play a great role in the second round, but being at this stage is already a nice achievement.

Marcos Milinkovic a "prince" in Argentina; a giant on the court

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 2 In a land where volleyball is cult, Argentina's national team captain Marcos Milinkovic enjoys pop idol status. The lofty number one adorns posters around the city, inscribed "Prince Marcos" and his image, often with his trademark "pistols high" sign of victory stares out from the cover of almost every national newspaper.
The towering 2.02-meter team captain is Argentina's top scorer and played a key role in his team's advancement to the second round. Now Argentina moves from San Juan to the capital and it will be Milinkovic's charisma, and his passion for the sport, that will draw the adoring fans into the Luna Park Stadum. "Our aim is to finish among the top eight," Milinkovic said. "That would be a very important step for us. After that we need to play game by game, without rushing. And when the team reaches that stage, one single game can take you to glory or leave you behind.
"That's why we need to be concentrated on reaching the quarterfinals. And from there just keep on winning."
But Milinkovic is more than a formidable player, whose name is chanted like a mantra whenever he steps on the court; he is a huge influence on the team's morale and focus.
Tall but remarkably agile, Milinkovic was summoned to join the national team in 1990 when he was just 19 to play the South American Junior Tournament and the 1991 Junior World Cup in Cairo as well as the Pan-American Games in Havana the same year.
But his sheer power combined with surprising nimbleness in one so tall, ensured Milinkovic´s graduation into the Senior National team after just one year on the Junior squad.
It was in 1995 that Milinkovic gained celebrity status, when the national team rewrote Argentine volleyball history, bringing home gold from the Pan American Games after defeating the United States 3-2 in a three-hour marathon thriller in Mar del Plata.
Argentina's love of volleyball, second only to its passion for football, is relatively recent, dating back just 20 years when the national side lifted bronze at the 1982 World Championships at home, allowing the nation to join the club of international volleyball's elite.
The bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney swelled the national team's fame even more.
"After 1982, the press and the public began to take a real interest in volleyball," explained Argentine volleyball legend Daniel Quiroga, the president of San Juan's Organizing Committee, which hosted Group A in the first round. "But the bronze medal in Sydney triggered a sort of fanaticism in Argentina."
However, Quiroga insists the sport's increasing popularity is not exclusive to Argentina.
"It is a worldwide phenomenon," he said. "We are not the exception. The transformation of volleyball and its increase in popularity over the last 15-20 years under Dr. Ruben Acosta´s guidance, " he said.
If Milinkovic is a diety in Argentina, the Quiroga family are the high-priests.
Quiroga - the main force behind San Juan's successful bid to stage Group A's first round in San Juan when Rosario was forced to pull out - is a household name in Argentina, as is his brother Raul. The two were star players on the national team from 1982 through 1994. And Raul, who also played pro in Italy, is a worldwide celebrity in the sport.
Volleyball was introduced in Argentina in 1912 by the YMCA and the country currently has more than 50,000 registered players. The sport is one of most practiced sports in the nation's high schools.
Argentina is now competing it it's seventh world championship and competed at the Olympics for the first time in 1984 in Los Angeles where they finished sixth. In Seoul, the team lifted the bronze in 1988 and in Atlanta they finished eighth.

Tournament wide open going into second round

Buenos Aires, Argentina - 
October 2 - The 2002 Men's Volleyball World Championship is wide open going into the second round after participating teams reshuffled the cards and produced surprises, excitement and exposed a number capable of climbing the podium on Oct. 13.
Stand by, at this championship in Argentina, anything can happen!
Six teams have sailed through the preliminary round undefeated, including Pool B winner Poland, who took Italy to task in a five-set thriller. Poland slipped into the championship after Korea withdrew, and suddenly they are being mentioned as a possible medal candidate.
But that's not all, USA came with a team mix of youth and experience, enough to humble mighty Brazil 3-2 in Pool E, and France, with their creative play and agility emerged table leaders of Pool C after defeating both Russia, certainly a pre-tournament favorite, and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, Russia, winner of the 2002 World League, had to fight hard just to stay in the tournament. Russia lost to Bulgaria and France and only secured a second round spot as one of the best third-ranked teams.
Host Argentina won Pool A, but not without some remarkable volleyball. The home crowd favorite had to play two nail biting five-set matches against Australia and Portugal on their way to topping their table.
Netherlands was the best team in Pool F, dubbed the "Group of Death" because no-one could safely predict the outcome. The Flying Dutchmen booked three impressive victories against Greece, Czech Republic and Cuba, while Cuba, bronze medallists from the last championship in 1998, packed their bags and went home with nothing to remind them of the championship except a tied 19th position- It was their worst classification since 1956. Cuba has been in the final four since 1990.
Yugoslavia enjoyed an easy first round and conceded only one set on their way to topping Pool E.
Sixteen teams now contest round two in four pools of four teams each and this time they represent four continents and with European teams dominating the lineup with 11 teams advancing. Yugoslavia, Italy, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, France and Netherlands were the top eight of last European Championship and are now among the best 16 teams in the world. Portugal, Spain and Greece are also qualified.
Asia is represented by Japan and China, two teams that scraped through as two of the best third-ranked teams of the first round. South America has Argentina and Brazil still in contention, while USA is the only team representing North and Central America (Norceca).
The 2002 Men's World Championship has been a spectator and media magnet. In the 36 matches played in the preliminary round 143,172 fans passed the entry gates in the six different Argentine cities.
The second round starts Friday Oct. 4, with matches in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Salta. The final will be played on Sunday Oct. 13 in Buenos Aires.

Ruling order shaken up at Volleyball Worlds
Buenos Aires, Argentina - October 2 -The Ruling Order of international volleyball was shaken up in the first round of the 2002 Men's World Championship on Tuesday when Cuba packed their bags and headed home after failing to qualify for the next round of competition and the Russians had to pull off a 3-0 victory against Tunisia to scrape in as a lucky loser.
Russia and Cuba have been powerhouses in the sport and the former came to the tournament as clear favorites after winning the prestigious $15 million World League in August.
Cuba is rebuilding their team with a new generation of players and Eliseo Ramos, the head coach, express disappointment in their performance.
"We have improved a little, but not enough," he said "There were players who didn't pull their weight."
Teams advancing are Yugoslavia, Spain, USA, Brazil, Netherlands, Greece, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Argentina, Portugal and Poland, who were the top two teams in the pools, while Japan, China, Czech Republic and Russia slipped into the rankings as the best third placed finishers.
Joining Cuba, homeward bound, are Australia, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Canada, Croatia, Tunisia and Egypt
In other action, titleholder Italy returned to the fast lane after their surprise defeat by Poland on Monday when they dismissed Canada in straight sets in Santa Fe, finishing their pool play with a 2-1 win-loss ratio.
Coach Andre Anastasi sent on heavyweight Hristo Zlatanov who combined effectively with opposite hitter Alessandro Fei and the elegant setter Valero Vermiglio.
Zlatanov added 21 points and was best scorer.
"I'm very happy with this victory, but now we have to win all the matches if we want to be champions," he said after the match.
France, who fought out a five setter with Bulgaria to finish top in their pool, now go to Santa Fe to play against Netherlands, Brazil and lucky loser Czech Republic.
France went in hard the first set and five points by Laurent Capet quickly put them in front. France frequently punctured the Bulgarian defense with captain Dominique Daquin in flying form and with great elegance often finding the gap in the Bulgarian court.
"I am very happy with tonight´s victory," Daquin said. "We kept up the dynamic of the game and we were able to make the necessary adjustments to win the match."
As both teams had already qualified, it was merely a matter of pride who took the match, but the two teams treated the crowd in the Luna Park Stadium to a great five setter. Bulgaria's Vladimir Nikolov was the best scorer of the match with 29 points.
In other late matches, Poland joined the undefeated teams to advance to round two with a 3-0 victory over Croatia, while hosts Argentina were contesting their last match against Portugal, a mere formalily as both teams had already qualified.

USA, Netherlands and Yugoslavia through to Round Two undefeated
Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 2 – USA, Yugoslavia and Netherlands claimed the honor on Tuesday as being the first teams through to the second round undefeated in the Men’s Volleyball World Championship here in Argentina.
Yugoslavia dismissed Japan 3-0 in Pool D at Mar del Plata and the Netherlands conceded one set to the young and inexperienced Cuban side in Pool F at Salta with their Tomas Aldazabal scoring almost half their points, finishing with 21 as top scorer for the match. As usual, the most dominant scorer for the Netherlands was Richard Schuil with 17 points from 44 attacks.
First round matches were played in six Argentine cities of Salta, Santa Fe, San Juan, Cordoba, Mar del Plata and the capital, Buenos Aires.
In other early action, Brazil had an easy 3-0 victory over Egypt in Pool E played in Cordoba and Spain allowed championship rookie Kazakhstan one set in their encounter in the day’s second Pool D match in Mar del Plata. USA met Venezuela in the second match and USA won the match 3-0 to also go through undefeated and top their table. Venezuela battled until the last ball and drove the final se to 33-31 before succumbing.
Yugoslavia delivered a volleyball lesson to Japan, even if coach Veselin Vukovic chose to rest some of his big guns in what was a formality match for the Olympic champions to round up the preliminary groupings.
Lofty Yugoslav star Ivan Miljkovic was again his team’s top scorer with 14 points while Nobuyoshi Hosokawa scored 11 for Japan.
Tuesday’s early matches concluded Pool D, which finished with Yugoslavia topping the table, followed by Spain, Japan and Kazakhstan.
Netherlands topped Pool F, Greece, who went down to Czech Republic was second, Czech Republic finished third and Cuba, bronze medallists at the last championship in Japan in 1998, joins rookie Kazakhstan and Egypt in heading home.
Round Two of the competition is played in four cities, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Salta and starts on Friday after two rest days.

Portuguese star Gaspar injured, may miss rest of championship
San Juan, Argentina  October 1- Portugal suffered a massive blow Monday when its star player Hugo Gaspar injured his right ankle midway through the fourth set of the European side´s 3-1 victory over Australia.
Gaspar, who scored 19 points during the match, may miss the rest of the championship, according to Portugal´s head coach Juan Diaz of Cuba.
"I think it may be a serious injury and that he may have to sit out the rest of the championship though it has not yet been confirmed," Diaz said. "The team is going to miss Gaspar as he is an important player."
Gaspar was taken to the local Rawson Hospital in San Juan for X-rays. It is suspected he has a sprain.
Portugal has won both of its matches so far, having defeated China 3-1 on opening day. The team has virtually qualified for the next round.

A day for the Giant Killers at the Worlds

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 30 - USA beat Brazil and France conquered Russia in an action packed second day of preliminary pool play at the Men's Volleyball World Championship here in Argentina, where a strong of matches went to tiebreakers and fans saw the world's elite and the up-and-coming deliver class matches worthy of this four year event.
In another Giant Killer action, Poland pulled off a surprise victory against Italy to shake up Pool B played in the city of Santa Fe and Portugal beat Australia in San Juan.
The USA combined their traditional fighting spirit with deft teamwork to wear down Brazil in the tiebreaker of their Pool E match that ran to an exhausting two hours and 15 minutes. The match was played in the city of Cordoba.
USA was a match for the South American team, considered to be one of the giants of the sport and liberally sprinkled with big stars like charismatic Gilberto Godoy Filhlo "Giba" Giba.
"The key to the victory was out team consistency," said American Brook Billings, who surpassed even the opposition's big hitters to emerge tops corer with 27 points.
France pulled off a 3-1 victory in Pool C against the powerful Russians, deploying the artistry of team captain Dominique Daquin and big hitter Frantz Granvorka to perfection against a normally impenetrable Russian defense.
French Libero Hubert Henno said after defeating the Russians: "It was a great victory to beat such a team as Russia who was the favorite for the title.
Russian coach Guennadi Chipouline said he was very disappointed in his team, which recently won the World League. "We made a lot of errors," he said.
Yugoslavia is also well placed to advance after sailing through their match with rookies Kazakhstan 3-0 and meet Japan in Pool D Monday, where their opponents will have to recover from a tough match earlier Monday which Spain won 3-2 just one minute under two hours.
Matches continued on Monday evening

USA beats Brazil, France conquers Russia in action packed day - FIVB Men's World Championship

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 30 - USA beat Brazil and France conquered Russia in an action packed second day of preliminary pool play at the Men's Volleyball World Championship here in Argentina, where a strong of matches went to tiebreakers and fans saw the world's elite and the up-and-coming deliver class matches worthy of this four year event.
In another Giant Killer action, Poland pulled off a surprise victory against Italy to shake up Pool B played in the city of Santa Fe and Portugal beat Australia in San Juan.
The USA combined their traditional fighting spirit with deft teamwork to wear down Brazil in the tiebreaker of their Pool E match that ran to an exhausting two hours and 15 minutes. The match was played in the city of Cordoba.
USA was a match for the South American team, considered to be one of the giants of the sport and liberally sprinkled with big stars like charismatic Gilberto Godoy Filhlo "Giba" Giba.
"The key to the victory was out team consistency," said American Brook Billings, who surpassed even the opposition's big hitters to emerge tops corer with 27 points.
France pulled off a 3-1 victory in Pool C against the powerful Russians, deploying the artistry of team captain Dominique Daquin and big hitter Frantz Granvorka to perfection against a normally impenetrable Russian defense.
French Libero Hubert Henno said after defeating the Russians: "It was a great victory to beat such a team as Russia who was the favorite for the title.
Russian coach Guennadi Chipouline said he was very disappointed in his team, which recently won the World League. "We made a lot of errors," he said.
Yugoslavia is also well placed to advance after sailing through their match with rookies Kazakhstan 3-0 and meet Japan in Pool D Monday, where their opponents will have to recover from a tough match earlier Monday which Spain won 3-2 just one minute under two hours.
In late match action, Bulgaria, who defeated Russia on Sunday, scraped past a tenacious Tunisia 3-1 while Canada had a 3-1 victory over Croatia.
The host team Argentina played out the last match of the day against China, notching up their second victory to assure they are into the second round. Other teams already sure of advancement by winning two matches are Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, France, Yugoslavia, USA and Netherlands.

Spain beats Japan in thrilling five sets

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 30 – Spain delivered a hard lesson to Japan on Monday in the day’s opening match, coming back with amazing force in the last two sets to take their second pool play match 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25,22-25, 29-27 and 15-13) in just one minute shy of two hours.
The Spaniards started strongly, but almost let the match slip from their grasp in the second and third set in the Pool D match played in the city of Mar del Plata.
The win keeps alive Spain{s chances to advance after losing to Yugoslavia on Sunday. Japan also has good opportunities and can have benefit from winning the two sets against the European squad.
But even though the final result gave Spain’s coach Francisco Hervas reason to celebrate, it was Japan’s Nobuyoshi Hosokawa who topped the scoring with 21 points.
Spain lost their opener 1-3 against Olympic champions Yugoslavia on Sunday but Japan beat Kazakhstan 3-1.
In other action, Greece bounced back from a defeat by the Dutch lineup on Sunday to surprise the young Cuban team 3-0 in a match that will surely be a confidence booster for the Pool F matches being played in Salta at the Delmi Stadium.
Greece excelled with diagonal attacks and kill blocks that indicated that they are still candidates for the next round. The young Cuban team, one of the most youthful at the tournament, made many mistakes in attack and service and their block, effective against the Czech Republic on Sunday, failed to have the same effect.
Top scorers were Nikolaos Roumeliotis (18 points) and Tomas Aldazabal (15 points). Greece plays the Czech Republic and Tuesday, while Cuba will meet The Netherlands. Both teams must win to be sure of advancement to the next round.
Yugoslavia was untroubled in their match against rookies Kazakhstan, coasting through 3-0 in just under one hour to be in the box seat for second round advancement.

Bulgaria upsets World League winners in first round
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 29 - An invigorated and creative Bulgarian side pulled off the upset of the first day of Pool Play at the Men's Volleyball World Championship when they defeated Russia, winner of the 2002 World League in straight sets.
In the other late match Poland beat Canada 3-1 in the city of Santa Fe.
The Russians lacked their usual solid defense, allowing the Bulgarians to duck and weave their way to victory, often leaving their opponents flat footed in the Pool C contest that lasted just one hour 14 minutes.
The Bulgarians scored a total of 78 points to Russia's 68. Bulgaria's Vladimir Nikolov was top scorer with 20 points.
"It was a good start, but it will be more important how we finish," said Bulgarian coach Assen Galabinov.
Bulgaria now faces Tunisia on Monday while Russia plays France, who earlier on Sunday beat Tunisia 3-1.
Other winner on Sunday in the first round of Pool Play were Portugal in Pool A, who beat China 3-1, Cuba, who dismissed Czech Republic 3-1 in Pool F, Olympic champions Yugoslavia who took care of Spain 3-1 in Pool D, while Brazil had no problems with their 3-0 victory over Venezuela.

ood start for Portugal, Netherlands and Japan

 Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 29 – Portugal sailed through their opening match in the start of Pool Play on Sunday when they scored a resounding 3-1 win over China in the city of San Juan. In other early action Japan defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 in Mar del Plata and Netherlands had a straight sets victory over Greece in Salta.

In Group A action, the Great Wall of China proved no match for powerful Portugal, which overcame the Asian side in an hour and a half.
In an evenly-balanced start, Portugal showed great confidence in attack, combining deep, diagonal balls and spiking by its outside hitters. In contrast, several unforced errors and poor serving also cost the team valuable points.
After the second technical time out, with the Asian team leading 18-12, China’s block consolidated and stopped every attack by its opponents to secure the opening set.
However, in the second set, China's wall began to crack.
Though Portugal's central area encountered reception problems, its effective blocking lifted it to a 16-13 lead. Di Anhe's team felt the pressure from the crowd, which began supporting Portugal.
With Eurico Peixoto on court, the action really started and Manuel Fernando Silva became increasingly effective on the attack, scoring 5 points (100%). Nuno Pinheiro closed the set with an ace.
The Chinese were clearly nervous in the third set, surrendering several big points due to unforced errors. The Portuguese struggled with their serve but turned up the spike heat for more points.
The European side's triple blocking opened up a six-point advantage, which the Chinese were unable to close.
The fourth set went the same way, with China clearly succumbing to nerves.
Portugal's Hugo Gaspar and Ubirajara Pereira were key players in the final moments of the match. Gaspar was the
best scorer with 17 points
Portugal and Argentina now top the Group A rankings with two points apiece, while Australia and China remain winless.

Argentina wins 3-1 against Australia in opening match
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 28, 2002 – The 2002 Men’s World Championship got off to a roaring start on Saturday with a spirited match between hosts Argentina and a young Australian side that finally, after a point for point battle, went to Argentina 3-1.T
The Australians ran on as underdogs took an early lead amid first minute nerves from the home team and it took Argentina 10 points before they finally edged ahead.
Australia took another slim lead to 17-16 when Jorge Elgueta erred on the rebound and let the opposition a two-point lead.
The Australians sealed the first set but Argentina was quick to respond. “Prince Marcos” Milinkovic, the blonde Argentine giant, hammered home a rocket that gave his team a two-point edge at 18-16. Then an impassioned plea by Coach Carlos Getzelevich pushed Argentina to 21-16 and they were back in the match. Elgueta served for the set, deftly returned by Australia but blocked by Hugo Conte to put Argentina in front at 25-18.
The next two sets were marathons where every point was wrung out and the team’s fortunes switched at a furious pace. The Argentines finally won the third 31-29 and sealed the match with 32-30 in the fourth.
Milinkovic, the man who enjoys pop star status in his country scored 25 points from 81 attacks, but it was the Australian Hidde Van Beest who was the match top scorer with 29 points.
Milinkovic paid tribute to the Australians after the match, saying “They have a great team and they played hard.”
Daniel Howard, Australia’s captain responded: “We knew this match would be hard in front of the crowd, but we wanted to play with a lot of passion, and this gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the pool matches.”
The two teams now travel to San Juan to complete their Pool A matches.
Argentina’s Javier Weber recorded a special statistic when he ran on for his fifth World Championship performance to herald 20 years of top-level competition.
The Australians too, had the stamp of volleyball “Argentina-style” as they are now coached by an Argentine national, Jon Uriarte.
The championship was launched by a colorful opening ceremony featuring a light and laser show illustrating Argentina’s geographic diversity, along with folkloric and tango dancing.

What they said after the Match
Daniel Howard (Captain AUS): "Obviously, we are very disappointed with the result. We started winning the first set but we couldn't maintain the level at the end."
Marcos Milinkovic (Captain ARG): "It was a very difficult match. The team could avoid its fears about the first game. I want to congratulate the Australians because of the level that they showed. At the end we had the calmness to close the last two sets." 
Jon Uriarte (Head Coach AUS): "We had prepared this match with a lot of dedication. We made that preparatory process along five months. I am very happy with the performance of the team."
Carlos Getzelevich (Head Coach ARG): "The most important this for us tonight was to win. Although we didn't show our best level we had the fighting spirit to win the match."


First Round Pool Previews

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 28 - The 2002 Men's Volleyball World Championship Opens Saturday night in the Argentine capital when the host team plays Australia. First round Pool play begins on Sunday in six cities.
Pool A - San Juan (Argentina, Australia, China, Portugal)
Host Argentina is considered the favorite of Pool A, with the strong, dependable performances of veterans
Marcos Milinkovic, Hugo Conte and Jorge Elgueta boosted by new blood like Alejandro Spajic. Seventh in the FIVB world rankings and fourth at the Sydney Olympics, Argentina is aiming to reach the quarterfinals. Argentina, China and Portugal all competed in this season's World League though none managed to qualify for the final phase. Argentina finished third in its group ahead of Portugal, while China placed third in its pool. Australia is the only team in the Group not to have competed in the elite 16-team tournament.
Portugal is making a comeback after a 46-year absence. The young selection defeated Argentina twice in World League play this season. Cuban Juan Diaz, considered one of the world's greatest technicians, has completely reconstructed the squad, using young players like setter Nuno Pinheiro, who is only 17.
With its 40-year history, China is making its 10th world championship appearance and is hoping to improve on its best result, a seventh place. With a new selection and new coach Di Anhe, China is pulling all the stops in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The towering young squad, with an average age of 24 and height of 1.96 meters, boasts seven players over two meters. However, the team is low on experience, with just six players having competed at the 1998 worlds and the 1999 World Cup in Japan.
The Chinese side, while sticking to its classic style, has also integrated many of the newer techniques and tactics used by strongest teams in the world. China may have finished out of contention in its World League group, but nevertheless posted a stunning upset win over three-time reigning world champion Italy.
Of the four teams, Australia has perhaps accumulated the least international court time this season, having not participated in the World League. However, it should not be discounted, as it is currently the second-best ranked team in the group, sitting ninth in the world. Combining youth with the experience of players competing professionally in Europe, Australia has entered the new century on a high note, placing eighth at the Olympics on home soil, beating teams such as Spain.
With Argentine Jon Uriate at the helm since June 2001, the Aussie side placed second in the 2001 Asian championships and has been steadily climbing the world rankings.
Pool B - Santa Fe (Italy, Poland, Canada, Croatia)
Defending World Champion and Pool favorite Italy opens its campaign in Pool B against European neighbor Croatia. Two of Italy's key players, Allessandro Fei and Mirko Corsano, trained separately from the team, but they are confirmed for the first match on Sunday.
Poland is one of the outsiders in this group and slipped into the championship after Korea withdrew because they were not able to meet some of the qualification criteria. Poland has proved itself to be a strong team in recent seasons and is capable of any upsets.
Canada can also play an important role. They won the qualification tournament in Winnipeg, Canada, even defeating the USA, but they will have to fight hard against tough European rivals. Croatia is the group's rookie and is making its first appearance at the final round of a World Championship. The men's squad of Croatia has now taken the limelight from their national women's team, which performed very well in the late '90's. The President of the Local Committee, Mr. Raul Araya said his city was eagerly anticipating the matches and was proud to be their host.
Pool C - Buenos Aires (Russia, France, Bulgaria, Tunisia)
Russia, recent winners of the World League, are favored to win preliminary Pool C. Russian coach Guennadi Chipouline is in Argentina with his standard successful lineup and there is no anticipated change to the starting six.
But Russia faces two strong opponents in France and Bulgaria, final eight finishers at the 2001 European Championship. France has been dynamic in producing good results in recent competition and is capable of sailing through into the quarterfinal and beyond.
Bulgaria is also able to defeat any opponent if the players, most of who are in the service of strong European clubs, stay concentrated. Tunisia completes this group. The African team failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympics after losing the final qualification match against Egypt. Tunisia will be pleased to advance to the next round, but this will be tough with three top European teams in this pool.
Pool D - Mar del Plata (Yugoslavia, Spain, Japan, Kazakhstan)
Olympic Champion Yugoslavia is here to taker their first ever World Title and are in force with their heavyweights Nikola Grbic, Ivan Miljkovic and Goran Vujovic. Spain, who reached the final eight in Japan in 1998, is their toughest opponent in this group. Japan has had their problems in recent seasons and failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games. Kazakhstan is the unknown factor and is appearing in the Championship for the first time.
Pool E - Cordoba (Brazil, USA, Venezuela, Egypt)
This group will play in the new Orfeo Superdome and Venezuela and Brazil has one clear objective - to win the event for the first time. Coach Bernardo Rezende believes his team is more powerful now than during the World League, when they lost the final to Russia at home. Giba, Nalbert and Gustavo Endres are their best weapons and veteran setter Mauricio Lima, Olympic Champion in Barcelona 1992, is in a good shape.
Venezuela returns to the World Championships after 12 years. The Cuban coach David Suarez said their goal is to advance the second round. "If we do this, it will be a good tournament for us," he stated. Their best player is Ernaldo Gomez, who could prove to be one of the most outstanding players at the tournament.
USA is one of the outsiders for a medal but under head coach Doug Beal, anything is possible for this experienced team, including the return to the squad of Libero Eric Sullivan, the best receiver at the last championship in 1998. USA won the World Title in 1986 and was Olympic Champion in 1984 and 1988.
African's best team Egypt will have a tough time in Cordoba and will be looking to improve their record at the last Championship, where they failed to win a match in the final round.
Pool F - Salta (Cuba, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Greece)
Referred to as the "Group of Death", this group should produce some exciting matches in the Delmi Stadium, where all four are capable of advancement. Cuba has achieved great results in the past, but is breaking in a new generation. Coach Eliseo Ramos has eight new players in his squad. Expectations are moderate for the team that won bronze last time round. Czech Republic is now in the hands of Julio Velasco, one of the world's big coaches. Velasco, from Argentina, won two World titles with Italy and a string of other majors. He hopes to show his home country that his new team can make great results. "Our participation in this World Championship is one the highest achievement for my teammates and me," said player Ivo Dubs.
Greece has recently beaten Croatia, Spain and Australia in friendly matches, as well as away matches against Argentina in the World League. "This is our best experience to get ready for the Olympic Games," said Captain Marios Gkiourdas.
The Netherlands are looking for a good result and Head Coach and former international Bert Goedkoop brought some young talent to the Championship. "We are looking for this Championship where we will face the best teams of the world. We want to be one of them," said captain Reinder Nummerdor.

News from Argentina - 24 hours before World Championship launching!

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sept 27, 2002 - The Men’s Volleyball World Championship launches on Saturday here with the host team playing Australia in the opening match at Luna Park stadium, but it is Italy that is here to try to capture their fourth consecutive World Title at this event to be played in six cities across Argentina.

Argentina joins Australia, China and Portugal in Pool A and after the opening match in the capital, travel to San Juan. Argentina will have strong support from the home crowd and will be aiming to reach the final eight, even if faced with strong opposition from the world’s elite teams. They will also want to improve their position after failing to reach the final eight in the World League in August.

Italy last won in Tokyo against Yugoslavia but they have since had mixed success in major events and will have to work hard to retain the title. They did win the 2000 FIVB World League and the bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but they sacrificed the 2001 European Championship to their traditional rivals Yugoslavia. Italy will contest Pool B (Santa Fe) and has Poland, Canada and Croatia as opponents. Their confidence and national pride in volleyball was lifted when their women’s team won the World Title, defeating USA in the final in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 15.

Meanwhile Olympic and European Champion Yugoslavia is in good form and finished third in this year’s World League final in Brazil. Yugoslavia is drawn in Pool D (Mar del Plata) and will face Spain, Japan and rookie Kazakhstan.

Russia last won the World Championship as the Soviet Union in 1982 and they contest the first round in Buenos Aires with the same lineup that won them the World League final in August. They play France, Bulgaria and Tunisia in Pool C and will be a tough opponent.

Brazil is hoping to win their first ever World Title with a side that mixes youth and experience and that was only defeated by Russia in the final of the World League. They face USA, Venezuela and Egypt in Pool E (Cordoba).

Cuba is the top seed in Pool F, played in the mountain city of Salta, but many young players have been introduced in the team. The Netherlands needs an advancement to round two to avoid slipping in the World Ranking. Czech Republic, with legendary coach Julio Velasco at the helm, could pull of a surprise. Greece is also a dangerous outsider and is busy preparing for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The first round composed by six pools of four teams each. The teams ranked first and second and the four best third-ranked teams advance to round two. The second round comprises four pools of four teams. The two best-ranked teams of each second round group will proceed to the quarterfinal stage. The final will be played on Sunday October 13 at 1830 local time in the Luna Park Stadium of Buenos Aires.