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08/10/2013 09:00
Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria prolong winning streak at U23 Men’s Worlds
News from the FIVB

Uberlandia, Brazil, October 7, 2013. Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia – Europe’s three representatives at the inaugural FIVB Men’s U23 World Championship in Uberlandia, Brazil – prolonged their winning streak on the second day of the competition as they all cruised to straight-set victories over Venezuela, Australia and Dominican Republic respectively.

Pool B favourites Russia claimed a 3-0 (21-16, 21-15, and 22-20) win against a competitive Venezuela team. Despite Venezuela’s efforts, Russia again displayed their all-round attacking and defending options with five players scoring six points or more. “In our team there isn’t a star player,” said team captain Dmitry Kovalev. “We all play like a team, so we have many offensive options, and we help each other to win.”

Australia pushed Serbia, but the guys from the Balkans also made it two victories out of two matches with a 3-0 (21-18, 22-20, and 21-14) win. Australia’s Lincoln Alexander Williams was the match’s top scorer with 14 points, while Serbia’s came mainly from middle-blocker Srecko Lisinac (12), wing spiker Uros Kovacevic (11) and team captain Aleksandar Atanasijevic (10). Lisinac said there was still more to come from Serbia. “You can see that we didn’t play so well, but I think we’ll find our best form when we are going to really need it. We’re starting to rest better and I think we can play much better.”

In the first match on day two, Iran claimed a second pool B victory with a 3-0 (21-12, 21-10, and 21-14) win against Mexico, thanks mainly to a low number of mistakes and a dominant blocking performance, led by middle-blocker Saman Faezi who scored five blocking points in the match. “We plan the games as a team,” said Faezi. “With a system in which every one of us has a function and mine is blocking. Today I was able to give a lot to the group. We have some big challenges ahead and these matches are good for adjusting details and working on our coordination.”  

In the first pool A match on court, Bulgaria claimed their second win of the competition with a 3-0 (21-13, 21-11, and 21-14) victory against the Dominican Republic. Wing spiker Branimir Grozdanov, who finished as Bulgaria's top scorer (9) despite not playing the final set, said the team was improving with every set.  

The South American 'classico' between Brazil and Argentina completely stole the show on day two of the Men’s U23 World Championship at the Arena Presidente Tancredo Neves. Brazil were forced to come from two sets behind to claim victory against traditional rivals Argentina with a tense 3-2 (19-21, 16-21, 22-20, 21-17, and 19-17) win in front a noisy home crowd in Uberlandia. In a feast of attacking Volleyball, opposite Rafael Araujo (21) and team captain Ricardo Lucarelli (18) were the top scorers as Brazil found a way to win against a determined Argentina team led in scoring by Pablo Koukartsev (21). Lucarelli admitted Brazil made too many mistakes on easy plays at the start of the match, while setter Thiago Veloso said playing Argentina is always difficult. “Argentina always represent a tough opponent and I think there simply isn’t an easy game against them. Winning over Argentina is always good but it’s also very important in this tournament. We were aware this was going to be like this.”    

In the final match on day two Tunisia almost lost a two-set lead, but resisted a strong Egypt comeback to claim their first tournament win with a 3-2 (21-19, 21-17, 18-21, 19-21, and 15-7) victory. Despite being on the losing side, Egypt’s Ahmed Elkotb not only produced the tournament’s top individual serving performance with six aces, but also the tournament’s top individual score of 29 points.  

On day three of competition, pool B favourites Russia are first on court against unbeaten Iran at 9:00 (local), then Venezuela v Australia at 11:00, and Mexico v Serbia at 14:00. The first pool A match is Tunisia v Bulgaria at 16:30, then Brazil v Egypt at 19:00, and Dominican Republic v Argentina at 21:30 (all times are local).  

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