Serbia and Brazil to battle for gold at inaugural Men’s U23 Worlds
News from the FIVB
Uberlandia, Brazil, October 12, 2013. Brazil and Serbia will play off for the first ever U23 world title in Sunday’s final at the Men’s U23 World Championship after winning their respective semi-finals with Russia and Bulgaria on the penultimate day of competition at the Arena Presidente Tancredo Neves.
The first team to earn their place in the final was Brazil who gave the home crowd in Uberlandia a treat with a 3-0 (21-16, 22-20, and 25-23) victory against Russia. Brazil started slowly in the first two sets but came back strong both times and had to save a set point in the third before wrapping up the win. Captain Ricardo Lucarelli was restored to the team after a recent knee problem and many of his 11 points were scored at crucial moments for Brazil, while middle-blocker Matheus Cunda scored seven blocking points in Brazil’s team total of 15 for the match.
“As always, we studied our opponent a lot,” said Cunda. “We went to sleep thinking about what they do and how they do it, so we could get here today and do our best without giving chances to them.” Russia captain Dmitry Kovalev admitted Brazil had served well and blocked their high balls well, but also lamented the fact that his team hadn’t taken proper advantage of their opportunities.
Brazil will meet Serbia in the gold medal final after they ruthlessly demolished Bulgaria 3-0 (21-13, 21-18, and 21-10) in the second semi-final. Their victory was based around a superb defensive performance from middle-blocker Srecko Lisinac who smashed the individual best for blocking points in tournament, scoring 10 out of Serbia’s team total of 18, which was also the highest number by a team. “If we can keep this up, we can beat everybody,” said Lisinac about the quality of Serbia’s victories against Russia and Bulgaria.
“I’m glad that I was able to block as I couldn’t in other matches, but we also played very well in serving and in reception.” Alongside Serbia’s sound defense, the spiking attacks of Aleksandar Atanasijevic, Filip Stoilovic and Uros Kovacevic were just too much for Bulgaria to deal with.
In the 5th-8th classification matches Venezuela upset Argentina with an impressive 3-0 (21-18, 21-14, and 21-14) win in the first match of the day. Venezuela surprised Argentina with their intensity and was inspired by the all-round display of attack, defense and serving from team captain Kervin Martin Pinerua Urbina who scored 19 points, almost a third of his team’s match total. “This was a perfect game,” said Pinerua Urbina. “We performed in an excellent way on court. Argentina has been our team to beat since forever, that’s why we fought from the beginning. The entire team was focused in winning, the attitude was the best.”
Venezuela will now play Iran who had to resist the challenge of Tunisia to record a 3-1 (21-13, 21-18, 18-21, and 21-17) victory in their classification match. After Iran ran away with the first, the last three sets were very closely contested with the winner only taking the decisive advantage as the set finished. The win was based on a strong defensive performance led by opposite Reza Ghara who produced one of the highest individual blocking performances of the tournament with seven of his team’s 13 blocking points. “Tunisia showed a very good performance,” said Ghara. “The level of this competition is very high; you can find very good players in this new age category.”
The final day of the tournament starts with Argentina v Tunisia for 7th-8th place at 10:00 (local), then Venezuela v Iran for 5th-6th place at 12:30, before the medal matches, Russia v Bulgaria for bronze at 15:00, and finally Brazil v Serbia for gold at 17:30.
For further information visit www.fivb.org