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07/10/2013 09:00
European teams off to good start at Men’s U23 World in Brazil
News from the FIVB

Uberlandia, Brazil, October 6, 2013. Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria – i.e. the three teams representing Europe in the inaugural edition of the tournament  all claimed wins on the opening day of the FIVB Men’s U23 World Championship at the Arena Presidente Tancredo Neves in Uberlandia. Russia and Bulgaria easily downed Mexico and Egypt respectively, whilst Serbia needed four sets to cruise past Venezuela.  

Russia were first on court on day one and had little trouble despatching Mexico 3-0 (21-11, 21-14, and 21-13). Mexico just couldn’t handle their all-round spiking options and didn’t register a single blocking point in the match as Russia cruised to a straight win in pool B. Despite defeat Mexico libero Jose Roberto Mendoza Perdomo was still positive. “This is a brand new experience for Mexico. You don’t usually get to face Russia, so it was a great chance for us to develop and learn.”  

Also in pool B, Serbia overcame a slow start and an error-filled first set to claim a close match 3-1 (15-21, 21-18, 21-19, and 21-14) against Venezuela, with team captain Aleksandar Atanasijevic unstoppable in attack as he registered 28 points. “It was a difficult start,” said Atanasijevic. “We knew also that Venezuela is a very good team. The most important thing is that we won our first match, which is always difficult, and now we have to improve for the next matches.”  

In the final pool B match, Iran made short work of Australia for a 3-0 (21-11, 21-15, and 21-7) win. Wing spiker Mojtaba Mirzajanpour led the scoring with 15 points and then said Iran were “ready to win” the tournament.  

Brazil treated the home crowd to victory with a dominant start to the Championship, sweeping Dominican Republic aside 3-0 (21-12, 21-6, and 21-10). Wing spiker Rafael Araujo was a dominant presence throughout and claimed five blocking points as part of a match-leading 12 points in total. “It was very positive for the first match,” said head coach Roberley Leonaldo. “We didn’t know that well their team, but we came prepared for something similar to what happened. They came with very young players that felt the pressure.”   

In the first Pool A match, Argentina survived a strong Tunisia comeback to register a 3-2 (21-14, 21-18, 13-21, 19-21, and 16-14) victory. Argentina went into a 2-0 lead before Tunisia’s confidence grew and pushed them right to the end of a tense tie-break. “It turned out to be a tough game for us,” said Argentina wing spiker Nicolas Mendez. “As the sets went on, they started playing more relaxed and their attack became very difficult to handle. However, I think this is great for us because this will teach us to play at our maximum the whole match.”  

The final day one action on court was Bulgaria’s Pool A match against Egypt which ended in a 3-0 (21-17, 21-17, and 21-12) win for the Europeans. Opposite Jani Jeliazkov (14) and wing spiker Branimir Grozdanov (13) provided the majority of points. 

On day two of competition, pool B matches will be first on court with Mexico v Iran at 9:00 (local), Russia v Venezuela at 11:00, and Serbia v Australia at 14:00, while pool A matches will start with Bulgaria v Dominican Republic at 16:30, Brazil v Argentina at 19:00, and Egypt v Tunisia at 21:30.  

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