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Brazil, Serbia, Cuba, Russia in World League top four
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11:27, July 25, 2009

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Brazil, Serbia, Cuba and Russia made the semifinals of the 2009 FIVB World League after the conclusion of pool play on Friday.

Seven-time title-holder Brazil overpowered Argentina 3-0 to win Pool F while the host Serbia battled past Russia 3-1 for the top place in Pool E.

With the 25-20, 25-22 and 25-20 victory over the Argentines, the Brazilians improved to a 2-0 win-loss record and set up a semifinal clash with Russia, who finished second to Serbia in Pool E.

"It is good to be in the Top 4 again with a new team, new setter, new blocker. It is good for us to see the team playing at a high level," said Brazil head coach Bernardo Rezende. "We hope to continue playing well and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Giba and Neves Vissoto notched 11 points each for Brazil with Endres Murilo adding 10.

Going down tamely in the first set, Argentina put up real resistance in the second where the two sides traded leads several times before tying it at 21-all.

However, a serving mistake followed by a spiking error of Lucas Chavez allowed Brazil a two-point advantage. Nicolas Uriarte, Rodrigo Quiroga and Alejandro Spajic teamed up to stuff Endres Murilo to pull Argentina within 23-22, but Murilo came back with a fine shot to give Brazil the set point before Guillermo Garcia drove a ball long to surrender the set.

In the third set, Brazil pulled away from a 9-8 lead on back of a 6-1 run and held on for the victory.

Later on Friday, Serbia beat Russia 25-23, 25-23, 23-25 and 25-21 in front of over 12,000 home fans.

"I have to say Serbia played tonight with all its heart and soul. And a very important factor was wonderfully audience in arena, the crowd raised us," said Serbia head coach Igor Kolakovic.

"I am very pleased how we played towards the end of each set, we didn't quit at any point."

It was a hotly contested match from the very beginning while Russia managed to hold an narrow lead until Serbia staged an 8-3 run capped by two Russian errors to go up at 22-20.

Russia pulled within 23-22, but Ivan Miljkovic came up with a couple of strikes from the side to clinch the opener for Serbia and set the tone for the match.

"I'm disappointed, we could have won this match 3-0," said Russia head coach Daniele Bagnoli, "We played well until one point in the set, and towards the end of the set we lose easy points."

Miljkovic had 15 kills in 36 attempts to score 17 points and Milos Nikic added 14 points for Serbia, who will meet Cuba in Saturday's semifinals.

The Russian side was led by Maxim Mikhaylov with 19 points.

Both teams played good defense while Serbia outdug Russia 26-20 with nine successful Serbian digs coming from the 2.06-meter Miljkovic.

Source: Xinhua

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