Russia to play Brazil in World League final, Italy and Bulgaria clash for bronze
News from the FIVB
Mar del Plata, Argentina, July 20, 2013. The top two ranked teams in the world will contest the FIVB Volleyball World League final on Sunday after Russia beat Italy and Brazil were too strong for Bulgaria in Saturday’s semifinals. Olympic champions and world No. 2 Russia beat eight-time winners Italy 3-1 (25-12, 25-23, 24-26, and 25-20) while record nine-time World League winners Brazil beat Bulgaria 3-1 (25-12, 25-17, 23-25, 25-16).
World No. 1 Brazil and Russia have contested five World League finals in the past, with Russia winning in 2011 and 2002 and Brazil taking the honors in 2010, 2007 and 1993. Both medal matches are a repeat of the London Olympics where Russia beat Brazil for gold and Italy overcame Bulgaria in the bronze medal match.
Sunday’s 2013 World League bronze medal match between Italy and Bulgaria will take place at 16:30 local time followed by the final at 20:00 between Brazil and Russia.
World No. 1 Brazil qualified for the FIVB Volleyball World League Finals for the 13th time and 11th time in the past 13 editions after beating Bulgaria 3-1 (25-12, 25-17, 23-25, and 25-16). The win, Brazil’s 11th in 13 matches in this year’s World League, continued Brazil’s impressive World League record against Bulgaria which now stands at 18:3, including two 3-1 wins during this year’s Intercontinental Round in Brasília. Isac Santos made his first start of the 2013 World League Finals as Brazil delivered an impressive performance. “I think the game was very focused for us from the start. We put pressure on their serve and in the match we managed to do our strategy that we studied, and this was fundamental to our victory”.
Bulgarian top scorer and team captain Todor Aleksiev stressed his anguish at his side losing another semifinal. Bulgaria have participated in four World League semifinals and six overall and lost them all. “I feel terrible because we lost but it’s a game” Aleksiev, who tallied 16 points, said. “We have to change our mentality because this is the sixth semifinal we lost. We kept fighting after the 2-0 down so I’m happy about that and we are going to battle for a medal tomorrow”.
Olympic champions Russia booked a spot in the FIVB Volleyball World League Finals for the eighth time - and third in four years - after beating Italy in a thrilling 3-1 (25-12, 25-23, 24-26, and 25-20) encounter in the first semifinal. It was a mouth-watering match up with the teams having met previously 28 times in the World League, with Russia winning 17 matches and Italy 11. Ten of those 28 matches took place in the Finals, Russia having won six, including the last four, and Italy four. Russia, ranked second in the world, had also won eight of the previous nine encounters across all tournaments with world No. 3 Italy’s 3-1 Intercontinental Round win this year in Surgut their only victory since the 2008 World League.
Russia's top scorer with 21 points, Nikolay Pavlov, said fitness was the difference between the two sides. “The first set we won easily, they were playing their third match in a row, in the second one they played better and after the break we began to make some mistakes. Italy is a well prepared team and doesn’t forgive this kind of mistakes”.
Despite a 3-1 defeat to Russia Italy coach Mauro Berruto was still very positive about his team’s performance. “It was not enough, they [Russia] deserved to win, because they played better Volleyball, but I wouldn’t change one centimeter of the muscles of the Russian players with the heart of my guys”.
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