U.S. to Face Brazil, Russia, Cuba in Final Round
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GDANSK, Poland (July 3, 2011) – The U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team will share its World League Final Round pool with Brazil, Russia and Cuba, the FIVB confirmed on Sunday.
All four teams are grouped in Pool F while hosts Poland will take on Argentina, eight-time champions Italy and Bulgaria in Pool E.
Pool F: Brazil, Russia, USA, Cuba
Pool E: Poland, Argentina, Italy, Bulgaria
Starting Wednesday, each pool will play round-robin before the top two sides from each group advance to Saturday’s semifinals with the finals to be played Sunday at the impressive Ergo Arena.
It is only the second time that eight teams have been involved in the World League Finals – the only other time was in 2003 in Madrid, Spain where Brazil won one of its record nine titles.
After the thrilling conclusion to the Intercontinental Round where the allocation of tickets to the Finals went right down to the final match – the United States' victory over Puerto Rico on July 2 in Long Beach, Calif. – more of the same intensity is expected next week with Russia, which lost only one Intercontinental Round match, looking for revenge for last year’s defeat in the finals to add to its only title in 2002 and Brazil looking for its third successive crown and ninth in 11 years.
The U.S. men are out to win the title for only the second time having won it in 2008, while a youthful Cuban side will be hoping to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish, having won the premier annual men’s tournament in 1998.
Italy’s best World League days are a distant memory; however its new crop of players have taken the 13-time medallists into the Finals in good form and a first medal since a silver in 2004 is within reach considering their form and fortunate draw.
It is the first time Bulgaria has reached the Finals since 2007. With a best finish of fourth, it has plenty to aim for while Argentina has recorded two fifths in the last two editions. Host Poland has already improved significantly on 10th- and 11th-place finishes in the last two World Leagues and have the target of their best ever finish - fourth in 2007