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Serbia, Russia and Brazil all move into final four

Serbia guaranteed their place in the final four with a win against Iran
Uberlandia, Brazil, October 9, 2013 - Russia, Serbia and Brazil all confirmed their places in the final four at the Men's U23 World Championship with victories on day four of competition at the Arena Presidente Tancredo Neves.

Russia were the first team to confirm their spot with a 3-0 (21-16, 21-13, 21-18) win against Australia in the first match on court. Australia made Russia work for their points, giving away just eight error points in the match, but Russia's spikers were up to the task and Russia heavily outscored Australia in attacking points.

Wing spiker Leonid Shchadilov, who was Russia's joint top scorer with 14 points, said there was still improvements to be made and looked ahead to the match that will decide the pool B winner. "We are trying to reach our best form for the games that are yet to come. We are improving. Now we have to face Serbia so we will try to show our best volleyball so far."

On paper, Serbia had the tougher assignment against Iran, but guaranteed their semi-final place with a 3-0 (21-13, 21-13, 21-19) victory that left Iran with no chance of a medal. The win prompted wing spiker Uros Kovacevic to say he thought Serbia were the "best team of the tournament".

Serbia dominated the first two sets, particularly after the technical timeouts, and when Iran reduced their error count and put more pressure on Serbia in the third set with their attacks, Serbia were still able to take control in the closing points to win 21-19.

Brazil were the third team to confirm their place in the final four with a 3-0 (21-19, 21-14, 21-19) victory against Bulgaria. All Brazil's principal attacking options contributed points, wing spikers Lucas Eduardo Loh (10) and Ary de Souza (11) in combination with opposite Rafael Araujo's six-point blocking performance.

Head coach Roberto Leonaldo was very pleased with the way his team prepared for the match and how they carried out their intentions. "Tactically we went very well, we bought a plan and really nailed it. Today we had a very high level of completion in relation to what we projected."

With defeat Bulgaria now have to beat Argentina in their final pool match to secure a place in the semi-finals. In the match on court before, Argentina kept their chances alive with a 3-0 (21-18, 21-10, 21-13) victory against Egypt.

Argentina kept their error count down and attacked consistently with top scorer Pablo Kukartsev and wing spiker Ezequiel Palacios both getting 12 points in Argentina's most consistent match of the tournament.

"We finally achieved something we were lacking, to win without any low moments in our game. We played more relaxed and things went the way we planned," said Palacios before looking ahead to their final pool match.  "We had a long talk to regroup and regain confidence. Now we have a very difficult match against Bulgaria, but it's not impossible. We are very motivated, we want to play right now."

In other pool matches, Venezuela claimed their second win of the tournament with a 3-1 (21-17, 21-12, 16-21, 21-15) victory against Mexico and will now play their final pool match against Iran to decide who finishes third in the pool.

Wing spiker Jhoser Contreras said the team's goal was very clear. "Since we left the hotel today we were focussed on achieving our goal of making it into the best eight teams of the world. Now we want to finish in the fifth place."

In day four's final match Tunisia claimed their second win of the tournament with a 3-0 (21-12, 21-16, 21-15) victory against Dominican Republic that guaranteed their stay in the competition to contest positions fifth to eighth, whatever happens in their final pool match against hosts Brazil.

Tunisia benefitted from a large Dominican Republic error count, at the end of the second set Tunisia had conceded just three error points compared to Dominican Republic's 19. 

Thursday is a rest day for the teams, then Friday is the final round of pool matches with Australia v Mexico first on court at 9:00 (local), then Iran v Venezuela at 11:00, Russia v Serbia at 14:00. In pool A it's the crucial deciding match Argentina v Bulgaria at 16:30, Brazil v Tunisia at 19:00, and finally Dominican Republic v Egypt at 21:30.

2013 Men's U23 World Championship Performances

Top Scoring Performances
29 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
28 - Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Venezuela (October 6)
26 - Mohamed Arbi Ben Abdallah of Tunisia v Egypt (October 7)
24 - Lincoln Alexander Williams of Australia v Venezuela (October 8)
21 - Mohamed Arbi Ben Abdallah of Tunisia v Argentina (October 6)
21 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Argentina (October 7)
21 - Pablo Kukartsev of Argentina v Brazil (October 7)

Top Blocking Performances
6 - Ivan Postemsky of Argentina v Brazil (October 7)
6 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Bulgaria (October 9)
5 - Rafael Araujo of Brazil v Dominican Republic (October 6)
5 - Saman Faezi of Iran v Mexico (October 7)
5 - Omar Hassan of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
5 - Ivan Demakov of Russia v Iran (October 8)
5 - Matheus Cunda of Brazil v Egypt (October 8)

Top Blocking Performances by Team
15 - Russia v Iran (October 8)
13 - Iran v Mexico (October 7)
12 - Serbia v Venezuela (October 6)
12 - Argentina v Tunisia (October 6)
12 - Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
12 - Venezuela v Mexico (October 9)

Top Serving Performances
6 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
3 - Mojtaba Mirzajanpour of Iran v Mexico (October 7)
3 - Dmitry Kovalev of Russia v Venezuela (October 7)

Top Serving Performances by Team
7 – Russia v Mexico (October 6)
7 - Egypt v Tunisia (October 7)
6 - Tunisia v Argentina (October 6)
6 - Russia v Venezuela (October 7)
6 - Serbia v Mexico (October 8)
5 - Iran v Australia (October 6)
5 - Brazil v Dominican Republic (October 6)
5 - Bulgaria v Egypt (October 6)
5 - Iran v Mexico (October 7)
5 - Serbia v Iran (October 9)

Highest Scorers by day
28 - Aleksandar Atanasijevic of Serbia v Venezuela (day 1, October 6)
29 - Ahmed Elkotb of Egypt v Tunisia (day 2, October 7)
24 - Lincoln Alexander Williams of Australia v Venezuela (day 3, October 8)
19 - Kervin Martin Pinerua Urbina of Venezuela v Mexico (day 4, October 9)

Highest Set Score
30-28 Australia v Venezuela (3rd set, October 8)
30-28 Bulgaria v Tunisia (1st set, October 8)

Highest Scoring Matches
193 - Brazil def Argentina 3-2 (19-21, 16-21, 22-20, 21-17, 19-17) day 2, October 7
179 - Tunisia def Egypt 3-2 (21-19, 21-17, 18-21, 19-21, 15-7) day 2, October 7
178 - Argentina def Tunisia 3-2 (21-14, 21-18, 13-21, 19-21, 16-14) day 1, October 6
168 - Venezuela def Australia 3-1 (21-15, 21-13, 28-30, 21-19) day 3, October 8

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