Belgrade, Serbia, July 26, 2009 – Brazil is the 2009 World League Champion. In a packed Beogradska Arena (22,680 spectators is the record for a sporting event at the venue) Brazil beat Serbia in a thrilling 3-2 match (22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12) on Sunday. It is Brazil’s eighth World League title, while Serbia won their fourth silver medal, second in a row. Cuba surrendered to Russia in the bronze medal match, Daniele Bagnoli’s team winning easily 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-16) to earn their 12th World League medal. Brazilian libero Sergio won the 30,000 USD prize as MVP of the final.
BRAZIL – SERBIA 3-2
The block of Dragan Stankovic, Milos Nikic, Ivan Miljkovic won the first point of the match for the Serbian team. Serbia kept on rolling, taking a 5-2 lead. Owing to good serves from Giba, the Brazilian team leveled at 5-5. By the first technical timeout, Serbia enjoyed a 1-point difference. The teams traded points until the second TTO, when Serbia upped the tempo and took a 2-point advantage thanks to brilliant play from the “Blue Boys.” Miljkovic served an ace to take the biggest lead in the set. After a failed attack from Nikic, Brazil reduced the gap to only 1 point. Serbia scored the set point thanks to a fabulous smash from Miljkovic, the top scorer in the frame with 9 points on 18 attempts.
Brazil won the opening point of the second set. The teams traded points until the first TTO, Bernardo Rezende's men enjoying a 2-point difference. Brazil held the lead before the second TTO, winning a few good points despite the eagerness their opponent. Neither teams allowed the other to take the lead until 22-22, when Brazil took the initiative with 2 set points, the second of which was realized.
Brazil rushed out to a 3-0 lead in the third set and maintained it until the first TTO (8-4). Serbia coach Igor Kolakovic introduced Andrija Geric for Stankovic in an attempt to improve the block. In spite of that, Brazil led by 6 points, 12-6, and stretched the difference to 16-8 by the second TTO. After a block from Marko Podrascanin, Serbia scored 2 points in a row. Kolakovic's side managed to reduce the gap to 18-14 and with Sasa Starovic on for Miljkovic, Serbia won 2 extremely important points to close the gap to 21-17. Although they missed two set points, the Brazilians eventually secured the third set.
There wasn't any great advantage at the beginning of the fourth set, although Brazil led most of the time. After the second TTO, Serbia succeeded in taking a 2-point lead. Brazil reached the second TTO leading 16-15. The teams traded points until 21-21, when Brazil won a contentious point that was settled only after a long consultation between the referees. Two great serves from Podrascanin followed, and 2 points for Serbia were won. After a failed attack from Neves Leandro Vissoto, Serbia scored the set.
The fifth set began the same way and Brazil won the first two points. Serbia was the first to take a big advantage, 6-3, sustaining the lead to the TTO (8-5). Rezende's boys leveled at 10-10 and the match ended in favor of Brazil once again, even despite the absence of injured middle blocker Rodrigao.
“I'm so happy for this win” said Brazilian captain Giba. “This was a match with so many emotions. It's amazing to play a final in an arena with so many people. This victory is so important for this new generation. We will enjoy this victory, but we will be ready for the next competitions.”
RUSSIA – CUBA 3-0
Russia defeated a young and inexperienced Cuban team 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-16) to win the World League bronze medal at Belgrade Arena on Sunday.
Russia took advantage of a nervous start by Cuba, taking a quick 5-2 lead and maintaining the advantage until the first technical timeout (8-4). Cuba head coach Orlando Samuels called for a timeout in an attempt to stabilize his team but were unable to reduce the gap and entered the second TTO down 16-10. Russia continued to add to their advantage and won the set by 12 points.
The Cubans found their rhythm in the second set and took a 5-2 difference. By the first TTO, Cuba enjoyed a 2-point advantage. Russia stayed close and leveled the score at 9-9. The teams continued playing point by point until 14-14, when Russia scored 2 points in a row for a 16-14 lead. The teams traded points and after four successful blocks in a single rally, Cuba retook the lead, 23-22, but Russia scored the set.
In the third set Cuba led at the first TTO. The game continued point by point until 11-11, when Daniele Bagnoli's boys took a 2-point advantage. By the second TTO, Russia was still ahead 16-13. The Cubans unsuccessfully tried to get back in the match and Russia won the third set to secure the bronze medal.
Russian captain Sergey Tetyukhin was pleased with the final result: “We showed team spirit, we found our game and strength after yesterday's defeat to Brazil,” he said. “We played very well. It is not easy when you are beaten in the semifinals.”
Match descriptions, press conferences and free photos for media purposes are available at www.fivb.org
Former Italian Volleyball world champion Andrea Zorzi is in Belgrade to blog on the FIVB website with his project “Follow Me.” A click away from the FIVB homepage, “Follow Me” will track all the technical and backstage aspects of the World League Final Round with videos and articles. All the press conferences are available as well on video.
2009 WORLD LEAGUE FINAL STANDINGS
BEST PLAYERS (best 4 teams)
Best Spiker: Roberlandy Simon (CUBA)
Best Blocker: Roberlandy Simon (CUBA)
Best Server: Wilfredo Leon (CUBA)
Best Libero: Alexey Verbov (RUSSIA)
Best Setter: Nikola Grbic (SERBIA)
Best Scorer: Ivan Miljkovic (SERBIA)
Most Valuable Player: Sergio Dutra Santos (BRAZIL)
RESULTS AND MATCH SCHEDULE
Wednesday, July 22
Argentina – Cuba 1-3 (22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 24-26)
Serbia – USA 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-22)
Thursday, July 23
Cuba – Brazil 1-3 (18-25, 25-23, 17-25, 19-25)
USA – Russia 0-3 (22-25, 22-25, 23-25)
Friday, July 24
Brazil – Argentina 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20)
Russia – Serbia 1-3 (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 21-25)
Saturday, July 25
Brazil – Russia 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21)
Serbia – Cuba 3-1 (18-25, 25-13, 25-21, 27-25)
Sunday, July 26
Bronze medal match: Russia – Cuba 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-16)
Gold medal match: Brazil – Serbia 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12)