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First shock of the giants in Belgrade:
Poland and Brazil were stronger

Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, July 8, 2005 – The Final Round of the 2005 World League opened with two superb victories as Poland beat Cuba 3-2 (23-25, 26-24, 25-16, 22-25, 15-13) and Brazil defeated the hosts Serbia and Montenegro 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-21) with 8,000 people providing a wonderful atmosphere with their shouts of encouragement and support reflecting their pleasure of being in Belgrade, celebrating this great Volleyball meeting.
Pic: Mitrovic Aleksandar of Serbia & Montenegro spikes against Brazil's Nascimento, Santana and Amaral
By the end of the afternoon, the temperature was growing in the new Gradska Arena, where thousands of Volleyball’s friends were full of emotion as the national anthems of Cuba and Poland opened the Final Round: six matches in three days after six intense weeks of Intercontinental Round competition in 31 cities! “We wish to dedicate the Final Round to all those who give their very best to ensure the constant and harmonious development of Volleyball, as well as to the many players who keep our sport alive every day, throughout the world,” FIVB President Dr Rubén Acosta said.

It was 5pm as the players of the Cuba head coach Roberto Garcia and the Polish boys of Raul Lozano arrived at the net. The first shock of the giants! Both teams made a great start, but Poland finally won against a very young and athletic Cuba side which has an average age of just 22.6! “I consider this result as a consequence of many mistakes”, Garcia said. During the press conference following the match Lozano added: “We met a very good and serious team. The balance between both teams was good and it was difficult to say who would win.”

The Cubans dominated the beginning of the match, but made a few mistakes and had some difficulties in defence. Poland let its experience speak and finally won the match, after a wonderful final set, as both teams tried to find the ultimate balance between strong attack and safe defence. There was plenty of emotion among the Cuban supporters after their side went down in five sets, having put Poland under some pressure with some outstanding attacks in the fourth set.

Brazil was stronger tonight…

There was a fantastic ambiance in the splendid Gradska Arena for the first shock between the Olympic champions of Bernardo Rezende and the host nation, Serbia & Montenegro, 4th in the last World Championships in 2002. The blue team was playing in front of its home fans who were fantastic in their support to the players of Ljubomir Travica! But unfortunately it was not enough.

During the first 15 minutes of the first set, Serbia & Montenegro took the advantage, but then Brazil, winner over the previous two years, came back with class and then out on an incredible show before winning the set 25-21. In the second set, Serbia and Montenegro resisted a lot better and finally won 23-25. Brazil came back superbly in the third set with some spectacular plays before finally, in the fourth set, the world champions showed once more their potential to play some incredible defence: a huge obstacle against the best efforts of Serbia and Montenegro. 25-21 in this last set and victory to Brazil!

After the match Rezence declared: “Both teams have talent. It’s clear that Brazil made some mistakes. The positive side was the blocking. But tomorrow, we will have to stay very concentrated.”

On his side Travica added: “The level of the game was very high and we had a bad attack today. We have many reserves and I believe in the great potential of our team for tomorrow’s match!”

"It has been the first official competition in the new Belgrad Arena and we are very proud to have top class Volleyball here", said Mr Alexander Boricic, President of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia and Montenegro.

Tomorrow at 5 pm Cuba will meet Brazil and at 8 pm, Poland will take on Serbia and Montenegro.

Good TV coverage

Each of the matches on Friday was covered by 14 TV channels, half of them transmitting live and half semi-live, in 54 countries in all different time zones. The Host TV Broadcaster RTS Serbia is providing fantastic TV production and is producing top class Volleyball games superbly with a 15 TV camera layout.

On Saturday, for the semi-finals, the FIVB TV Live Commentator, Paul Sunderland (USA), will again provide English guide commentary to 26 international TV networks. The "Semi-finals presented by FIVB" will go out to all interested TV stations covering all continents. Mr Sunderland was Olympic Volleyball gold medallist in 1984, five times Olympic TV live commentator and during the past 10 years he worked for various major TV networks in a large selection of sports. "I'm honoured to support so many TV channels by providing live action reporting and background information", Sunderland said. He indicated too that Volleyball has undergone an important development during the last years.

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