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2006: Brazil and Russia triumph at World Championships in Japan

 
Brazil won a second successive title at the World Championship in 2006
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 26, 2014 - The two FIVB World Championships are the highlights of the year. Each week in the run-up to the title showdowns for the men in Poland (August 30 to September 21) and for the women in Italy (September 23 to October 12), we take a look back at the stories to emerge from previous competitions. In part 16, we look at the FIVB World Championships in 2006, which took place in Japan.

Lausanne, Switzerland, August 26, 2014 - Both FIVB World Championships in 2006 took place in one country - as they had in 1998 - and Japan was again the host country. The tournaments saw tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators, passionate about their volleyball, flock to the matches from October 31 to December 3, with the finals in Osaka and Tokyo.

The medal hopes of the hosts, however, who had become used to success in the 60s and 70s, particularly from the ladies, failed to produce results. The women finished sixth, the men down in eighth. A small consolation came in the form of setter Yoshie Takeshita, who was named MVP. It was left to others, however, to make the headlines.

Top all-rounder Lioubov Sokolova and prolific scorer Ekaterina Gamova, in particular, prevented total Brazilian domination during the days in Japan. The South American ball sorceresses had swept through the tournament like a hurricane with their fast-paced attacking game, defeating Russia 3-1 in the intermediate round and the Serbs, who went on to finish third, 3-1 in the semifinal.

In the final, however, the Russians, led by Sokolova, held their nerve best and clinched a dramatic 3-2 victory courtesy of their powerful attacking play. Celebrations knew no bounds after their first title since the fall of the Soviet Union, who last won the title back in 1990. “We have made history,” said Sokolova. Russia had already dethroned defending champions Italy in the semifinal. The hosts of this year’s FIVB Women’s World Championship, which gets underway in a month’s time, left empty handed after losing 0-3 to Serbia in the third/fourth place playoff.

China (5th) and Cuba (7th), who had been so dominant up to 2000, and the USA (9th) also missed out on the podium. The top points scorer was Turkey’s Neslihan Demir Darnel, a spiker from one of the less well ranked teams in the tournament. And the same was true in the men’s tournament. Hector “Super” Soto was outstanding for the outsiders from Puerto Rico, and was awarded the title of “Best Scorer”.

The medals went elsewhere though. Defending champions Brazil got off to a sleepy start, losing 1-3 to France in the preliminary round. When it came to the business end of the tournament, however, coach Bernardo Rezende’s team, which included MVP Giba and Dante, was wide awake. Having won the World Championship title in 2002 and Olympic gold in 2004, the Selecao emphatically defended its position as world number one with a display of versatile attacking and flexible defence.

Serbia and Montenegro were defeated 3-1 in the semifinal, before the Brazilians brushed aside surprise package Poland 3-0 in the final,  to the sound of samba drums. The Poles' sensational progress to the final represented their greatest success since their only World Championship title in 1974. The man voted the best setter of the tournament was Poland's Pawel Zagumny. The hosts of this year’s World Championship, which kicks off in a matter of days, did not suffer a single defeat on their way to the final, and could list the likes of Russia and Serbia and Montenegro among the teams they defeated. Bronze went to Bulgaria and their star attacker Matey Kazyiski, who defeated Serbia and Montenegro 3-1.

The impressive French, who had beaten the eventual world champions, finished behind Italy in sixth place. They went to five sets on three occasions in the intermediate round before a 2-3 defeat to Bulgaria ultimately denied them a chance of a medal. The Russian team, who are now back among the world elite, had to settle for seventh place in 2006. They received two individual awards for Alexey Kuleschov (Best Blocker) and Alexei Verbov (Best Libero).

Read about earlier editions of the competition by clicking on the links below:

2002: Brazil's men and Italy's women win first World Championship titles
1998: Hat-trick gold winners Italy and Cuba successfully defend their titles
1994: Cuba and Italy claim World Championship titles
1990: Last World Championship title for the Soviet Union and first for Italy
1986: USA bring a halt to East European dominance
1982: The Soviet Union and China win gold at World Championships
1978: Italy and Cuba step into World Championships spotlight
1974: Poland surprise favourites to win Men's World Championships
1970: Surprise World Championship gold for the German Democratic Republic
1966 and 1967: Soviet Union empty-handed for the first time
1962: Japan’s ladies produced “volleyball from another planet” to end the dominance of the hosts, the Soviet Union
1960: Volleyball fever in Brazil, both World Championship titles go to the Soviet Union again
1956: Czechoslovakia claim trophy in Paris
1952: Soviet Union win double gold in Moscow
1949: Soviet Union win inaugural World Championships



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