FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011

Press release

Countdown to 23rd edition of World League nearly over

Defending champions Russia will be hoping to add to their 2011 success as they go on the hunt for back-to-back crowns

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 16, 2012 – The countdown to one of the most anticipated FIVB Volleyball World Leagues in recent memory has reached boiling point with the world’s premier annual men’s volleyball tournament set to begin on Friday. Preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games will not be far from many teams’ minds with the 23rd edition of the competition also expected to be one of the most hotly contested.

This year the World League has a revised, compact format, running initially from May 18 to July 1, with the finals set to take place in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia from July 4 to 8.

While the World League still features 16 teams, for the first time in the tournament’s history the Intercontinental Round will be played across four weeks with each country hosting all four teams in their respective pool on one weekend each.

The change in the competition format is to accommodate a busy schedule that includes qualification tournaments for the Olympic Games and also takes into consideration other sporting events ahead of the Olympics.

Defending champions on prowl for double delight
Russia come into the tournament off the back of a sensational 2011 which saw them clinch their second World League title as well as a fifth World Cup in Japan.

Having guaranteed their place in London this summer, coach Vladimir Alekno will be hoping to gain momentum by successfully defending their title to become the first Russian team to win back-to-back crowns.

However, they will need to be at their best as they have some dangerous rivals lining up alongside them in Pool A.

Serbia may not have been able to follow up on their bronze medal performance at the 2010 World League and World Championships in 2011 but they did seal the European Championships, proving that on their day, they are serious contenders.

Igor Kolakovic’s team came home eighth at the World Cup, suffering a surprise loss to Iran in the opening round, and will want to bounce back this year.

World No.5 Cuba will also hope to return to winning ways after reaching last year’s final but failing to pick up a win.

They will be joined by Japan who will look to use their underdog status to mount a surprise challenge to the other three heavyweights.

Brazil desperate for redemption
Whilst 2011 was far from a disappointing year for Brazil, the world No.1 will be keen to return to the top step of the podium after missing out on both World League and World Cup gold.

Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rezende’s side were beaten by rivals Russia in the final of last year’s tournament and narrowly sealed bronze at the World Cup.

Giba and Murilo will miss the first weekend of Pool B action but the return of 2004 Athens Olympic Games gold medallist Ricardo Garcia injects the squad with a wealth of experience.

Poland will want to quickly add another medal to their honours list after picking up bronze during last year’s campaign, their first ever in the World League. The signs of improvement continued after the World League as they wrapped up bronze at the European Championships and then silver at the World Cup. They will be dark horses to take the group ahead of Brazil, although lost to their South American counterparts in five sets at the World Cup.

Canada return to the competition for the first time since 2006 and off the back of a brilliant campaign at the NORCECA Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament where they turned the form book on its head to reach the final, losing to USA.

Finland are back once again and with no chance of reaching the Olympic Games, will hope to remain focused and reach their first ever Finals.

USA and Italy aim for advantage ahead of London
With both the United States and Italy assured of a place at the 2012 Olympic Games after winning their respective Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments, their focus will be on preparing for London and gaining momentum leading up to the main event.

The US have not been at their best in recent years, but their only gold medal in the tournament came in 2008, the same year they gained immortality by winning gold at the Beijing Olympic Games, so they will hope history repeats itself this year.

Italy have seen a drastic improvement since Mauro Berruto was named coach in December 2010, and narrowly missed out on bronze at last year’s World Cup, with one set the difference between them and Brazil. They will fancy their chances at capturing the pool and an automatic place in the Finals.

France and Korea complete the pool, with both also scheduled to compete in World Olympic Qualification Tournaments during the same period, adding a distraction for both.

Young stars point to promising Argentinean future
Argentina will come into the World League just weeks after successfully qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with several rising stars building a promising future for the team.

Facundo Conte, Sebastian Sole and Luciano De Cecco are just three players from the squad that finished last year’s World League in fourth, their best ever ranking.

Javier Weber’s young stalwarts will be hoping to add to their success this year, starting with the World League.

However, they face a sizeable opponent in Germany, who pushed Italy all the way in a sensational CEV Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament final in May, narrowly losing by the narrowest of margins.

Bulgaria are in a state of transition and will be reeling after missing out on Olympic qualification in May. They still have another chance at the World Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament so will want to use the World League to prepare for that crucial event.

Finally, Portugal return all the more experienced after qualifying for the first time since 2006 last year. They had to hold off China in the Playoffs to keep their place in the tournament and will be hoping to build on last year’s campaign.

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19.05.2012 08:08:27
Serbia rebound from opening day loss with win against Cuba

19.05.2012 05:59:02
Brazil v Poland press conference

19.05.2012 05:08:39
Poland defeats Brazil in five set World League thriller

19.05.2012 00:40:51
Canada v Finland press conference

19.05.2012 00:28:24
Canada returns to World League with victory

18.05.2012 23:47:04
Mauro Berruto: "After 150 minutes and 119 points each there is nothing more to say"

18.05.2012 23:31:43
Italy pleases home crowd with win over Korea

18.05.2012 21:30:14
Knipe: Reception errors cost us

18.05.2012 20:22:22
Alekno watching Russian success from afar

18.05.2012 19:54:08
French pick up shock win over USA

18.05.2012 14:02:31
Japan captain Yamamoto: A lack of concentration in the second set hurt us

18.05.2012 13:21:50
Cuba's Leon and Hernandez trump Japan and their ace Fukuzawa

18.05.2012 11:39:43
Serbia captain Janic: We didn't start with energy

18.05.2012 10:57:43
Defending champs begin 2012 World League on high note

18.05.2012 04:22:51
Canada ready to host first World League tournament stop in five years

17.05.2012 17:20:36
Florence fans expecting Italian glory

17.05.2012 15:32:09
Brazil's coach expecting tough battle in World League Group B

17.05.2012 11:27:40
Japan look for Cuba scalp to celebrate World League return home

17.05.2012 11:08:49
France warming up for Olympic mission

16.05.2012 17:58:28
World League Media Guide online

15.05.2012 18:00:02
FIVB Heroes event held in Frankfurt

15.05.2012 16:27:40
Portuguese assistant coach cautious of new World League format

15.05.2012 11:45:00
Giba and Murilo to miss first week of World League action

09.05.2012 18:16:35
Ricardo speaks of happiness as he returns for Brazil

23.04.2012 17:15:25
Bernardinho names familiar Brazil squad for World League

19.04.2012 12:55:25
Gulinelli unveiled as Portugal coach

18.04.2012 18:12:44
Canada ready to welcome volleyball elite

18.04.2012 15:59:26
Argentina gaining momentum ahead of exciting season

04.04.2012 17:50:45
Media accreditation open for World League and World Grand Prix pool stages

02.04.2012 17:50:03
Road to Sofia begins as World League squads unveiled

16.03.2012 16:25:58
Sneak preview of World League Finals and Olympic Qualification Tournament venue

12.03.2012 17:49:17
FIVB unveils World League match times

01.03.2012 15:48:51
Santo Domingo to host World League matches

10.02.2012 12:37:18
FIVB confirms schedule for World League 2012

17.12.2011 15:14:39
World League 2012 pools and format finalized

05.08.2011 17:10:34
Bulgaria opens new hall with match against Serbia

05.07.2011 22:07:24
Sofia confirmed as host of 2012 World League Finals

29.06.2011 18:28:41
FIVB World League 2012 playoff system announced