SPORTS

Greek volleyball team makes it to world’s top eight

Greece’s men’s volleyball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Volleyball Championships late Sunday night – local time – after defeating China 3-1 (19-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-17) in group play. «Getting into the quarterfinals was our big goal; the dream has become a reality,» said player Marios Giourdas. The convincing win over China, combined with group-winner Yugoslavia’s win over the USA, also 3-1, handed Greece second spot in Group K and its quarterfinals berth. As group winner, Yugoslavia, the reigning Olympic champion, also advanced. Trounced 3-0 by a mighty Yugoslav side in Group K’s opening round of play, Greece rebounded to overcome the USA 3-2 in a wild overtime game on Saturday before also triumphing against China. But the national team had to wait for the result of Yugoslavia’s clash against the Americans before being certain of a quarterfinals berth. Had the USA won, it would have qualified as Group K’s runner-up on a better overall set record. Greece will now face Russia, one of the tournament’s favorites for a medal, early Thursday morning local time, at 0.40 a.m. The game will be televised live on ET-1. Despite triumphing at the recent World League tournament, Russia, a silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, got off to a subdued start in Argentina but seems to have regained its form with three successive victories over Portugal, Poland and Spain for top spot in its group during the tournament’s second phase. Considered a rising force in world volleyball, Greece does stand a chance against the mighty Russians. In five encounters between the two teams last year, Greece emerged victorious four times – three times for World League play, and once during qualifiers for the World Championships. In the tournament’s three other quarterfinal draws: Yugoslavia will meet Portugal, the competition’s surprise team; defending champion Italy plays Brazil and host Argentina will be tested against France.