Luxembourg, Luxembourg, July 7, 2014. Russia was the only European team that managed to qualify for the 204 FIVB Volleyball World League Final Six on the last competition day of the Intercontinental Round, while the other two candidates, Serbia and Poland, will not be travelling to Florence. The Netherlands filled the last vacancy in the finals of the 2nd Group to take place in Sydney.
Russia took the three points from its second game at Bulgaria, shutting out the young home team by 3:0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-15).
“It was a better match for us than yesterday,” said Russia’s captain Sergey Makarov. “The three points were the most important thing for us to be able to qualify for the finals. Now our job is to recover and to play well in the Final Six.”
Serbia was not able to follow Russia into the finals as it lost its last match by 1:3 (21-25, 20-25, 25-27, 20-25) to USA in Belgrade. Upon winning this decisive game, the Americans topped the final standings in Pool B on more victories than Russia, as both teams ended up with 24 points each.
“We were equal competitors throughout the whole game, but in the end USA had more resources than us,” commented Serbia’s captain Dragan Stankovic. “This was a great experience for us, and we will be back next year to try to qualify for the finals.”
In Pool A Poland relied on Italy to win at least two sets against Brazil on Sunday, but over 12,000 spectators in Milan saw their favorites lose by 1:3 (25-27, 25-18, 17-25, 16-25) to the South Americans. This way Brazil went up to 17 points to catch up with Poland, but took the precious third place on better set ratio.
“We are not happy,” admitted Italy’s captain Emanuele Birarelli. “We lost concentration and were not able to win the first set that may have changed the result of the match. Brazil faced this last appointment more determined.”
The last question over the line-up for the 2nd Group finals in Syndey found its answer on Sunday as well. The Netherlands was quick to provide it with a 3:0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-21) victory over the Czech Republic. The Dutch topped the final standings in Pool E with 24 points from 9 victories and 3 losses.
“I am very happy with our victory today, we really played as a team,” exclaimed Netherlands’ captain Dick Kooy. “We have a young, talented group, and we reached our goal. I am really looking forward to playing in Australia.”
In the other Pool E match second-placed Portugal lost to visiting Korea by 1:3 (23-25, 23-25, 25-18, 21-25), an outcome that did not affect the final placement of the teams in the pool.
Belgium, France, the Netherlands and host Australia will be competing in the finals in Sydney on July 11 and 12. The winner of the 2nd Group will then join Iran, Brazil, USA, Russia and host Italy for the Final Six of the World League in Florence from July 16 through 20.
Click here for more info on the 2014 FIVB World League.