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Argentina overcame France (title holder) and Russia (Olympic Champion)

Lotz, Poland, June 26, 2016 – Argentina needed surprisingly little time to claim a straight set victory over Russia 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 28-26) on Sunday afternoon in Lotz in a nearly perfect weekend at the FIVB World League Intercontinental Round after a tie-breaker against the host team of Poland, defeating the title holder France on Saturday and today, overcoming the Olympic Champion. Now, the team coached by Julio Velasco will travel to Iran for the third and last weekend of this year's previous rounds.

Cristian Poglajen and Nicolas Bruno stayed fearless today, scoring 13 points each. Their team forced Russia to make as many as 25 errors, creating a comfortable space for Albicelestes to do their thing. On the opposite side of the net the best scorer was Egor Kliuka with 10 points to his name.

A massive attack from the left wing by Cristian Poglajen opened the clash between yesterday’s winners. Argentina’s good start effected in a three-point lead at 6-3. Russia appeared a little bit tired after the match against Poland and they let the rivals take control over the game (16-11). Luciano De Cecco did his job well on set and played confidently to the teammates. Coach Julio Velasco’s men did the homework, neutralized Viktor Poletaev and earned first set, after 25-18 win.

Sborna started tight from the beginning of the second set, keeping in mind that Albicelestes can use even a small lead to their advantage. It did not work long, because after the first technical time-out Argentina began leaping away and soon led 17-12. Coach Vladimir Alekno seemed to be far from satisfied with the performance of his team. Nicolas Bruno and Sebastian Sole did what they pleased at the net and Albicelestes easily gained a 2-0 lead overall.

The ten-minute break brought a new face of Russian play. Alekno’s players were more focused and Poletaev gave them a two-point advantage at 6-4. South Americans managed to get their act together and quickly flipped the charts around by blocking Egor Kliuka and getting 12-10 lead. Polish fans gathered in Atlas Arena were clearly supporting Argentina, giving wings to the blue-clad team but Sborna, not used to going down without a fight, battled through and the teams met at 19 all. Kliuka’s huge kill surprised the opponents’ block and Russia led 22-21. After a dramatic and prolonged ending Albicelestes regained the power and downed the Olympic Champions 28-26.

Argentina claimed an historic FIVB Volleyball World League win over Russia on the last day of Group 1D in Łódź and did so without losing a set.

Julio Velasco, coach of Argentina: It was a strange match because Russia didn’t play their volleyball today. As we talked before the match with the players, there are teams stronger than us but if they don’t play at their highest level we can beat them and we must be prepared to do this. When we play against as strong teams as Poland, Russia, USA, Brazil, Italy or France and they perform their maximum we aren’t likely to win but we must take our chances with such opponents when they don’t play at their level.
Today Russian players seemed to be a bit tired, they did a lot of mistakes in the service, weren’t as strong and efficient in attack as usual. We played balanced volleyball between service and reception as well as between block and defence. We need to play like this because we aren’t physical team we have to play technical, balanced volleyball to be able to fight and win with the strongest teams in the world which can win the match with strong service or attack. And we managed to do this today, we made a surprise and beat Russia 3-0.

Luciano De Cecco, captain of Argentina: We are very pleased. We did a fantastic job in an important game. We won with a team stronger than us, and I guess we never won with them in the World Leauge before. We are very happy now, and we can enjoy this moment and then concentrate on the next matches. We never dreamed or thought about winning against Olympic Champions and it's historic victory. Now let's wait and see if we qualify for the Final Six.

Alexey Verbov, Russia: Today is a very bad day for us, not because we lost and neither because we played really bad, but because we didn’t believe in ourselves. And it makes me really angry and disappointed. We wanted to play and to win but it wasn’t enough. Yesterday we played well and had a good day. And the fact that we have such big fluctuation of our game is not a good sign for a team which want to be in the top, so it is a very good lesson for us and I hope that it’s better to have this lesson today than in future. It was like a slap in the face. I am not sure if we will be able to qualify for the Final Six, but I hope that it is still possible with some luck. Now we have to win the next three matches in the USA. I hope that thanks to this lesson we will grow up in our heads, because this defeat wasn’t only caused by our game, it was a mentality problem, too.