Italy to play Russia, Brazil takes on Bulgaria in World League semis
News from the FIVB
Mar del Plata, Argentina, July 19, 2013. Italy, Russia, Brazil and Bulgaria will play in the FIVB Volleyball World League semifinals together for the first time after the final-four of the 2013 edition was confirmed following the last pool matches on Friday.
In Pool E, Brazil – needing to beat Canada to stay alive in the competition – did just that in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 30-28, and 25-20) to win the group ahead of Russia. Italy collected their second win from as many matches to top Pool D after beating Argentina 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-17, and 25-22). Bulgaria finished second to set up a semifinal against Brazil. Italy will play Russia at 16:30 while Brazil takes on Bulgaria at 20:00 in Saturday’s semifinals.
Canada were confirmed in fifth, their best ever result in the World League, having two points following Thursday’s win over Russia while winless Argentina ended in sixth spot, a repeat of their result in 1999 when the World League Finals were also held in Mar del Plata.
Nine-time FIVB Volleyball World League champions Brazil booked a World League semifinal spot for the 18th time in 24 editions – including 14 of the last 15 – after beating Canada 3-0 (25-18, 30-28, and 25-20) in the last Pool E match on Friday. Having lost to Russia in five sets on Wednesday, Brazil needed to win the game and that they did, maintaining their impressive record against Canada which includes 17 wins from 21 matches, including 13 out of 16 in the World League. Wallace de Souza was Brazil’s top scorer with 18 points as a swollen left knee forced Leandro Vissotto out of the Brazil team for their must-win match. Wallace proved an able replacement. “It’s not the first time I entered like this in a tournament for Leandro injured himself also in the Olympics. I have to be prepared: this is my mentality, to be prepared for anything that happens”.
World No. three Italy beat hosts Argentina, ranked ninth in the world, with a well worked 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-17, and 25-22) victory in the last game in Pool D to win the group and set up a semifinal match with Russia on Saturday. Italy were hot favorites going into the game having won nine of the previous 14 World League matches against Argentina although Argentina did have history on their side, having won the last World League encounter at the 2011 Finals. Team captain Cristian Savani has led Italy into the World League final-four for the first time since 2004. “I’m very happy, because we achieved this result with a new group that after the  Olympic Games changed a lot. Many of the players in this team wouldn’t have thought we could achieve this”.
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