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Outstanding improvement by Venezuela

July 6, 2005 – Venezuela joined Portugal is recording their best ever finish in the World League with their seventh place finish in the 2005 edition.

Previously, the world number 13 had finished last, in 13th place in each of their three attempts between 2001 and 2003.

But this year, after a year’s sabbatical, the South Americans, under the guidance of new coach Eliseo Ramos, have reinvented themselves, particularly with the legendary Ernardo “Harry” Gomez at the wheel.
Pic: Venezuela's star Ernardo "Harry" Gomez
Just like Portugal, Venezuela were in a tough group in Pool A with defending champions and world number one Brazil, and Japan, ranked 17th in the world but they played well above their fighting weight, collecting five victories from their 12 matches.

It was a tough start to the competition after losing their two opening matches at home to Brazil but the young Venezuelan’s keep their heads up and managed to beat Japan four times and Portugal once at home.

"The Venezuelan team is very young and still needs to work hard,” Ramos said. “But we did a lot of good work in this World League. We finished our campaign with some good performances. We have to improve some things and make fewer mistakes, but the Volleyball in Venezuela is in development time.”

Gomez was by far and away the star of Venezuela’s campaign, finishing fifth on the Best Scorer rankings of the Intercontinental Round with 165 points but Gustavo Valderrama and Carlos Luna were also shining lights finishing first and second on the Best Receiver rankings respectively. Luis Diaz finished second on the list of Best Spikers with a stunning success rate of 54.15 percent. Gustavo Valderrama finished fifth on the Best Diggers list with an average of 1.29 per set while Ivan Marquez was the sixth Best Blocker averaging .56 per set.

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