Greece bows out to superior Russia at volleyball Worlds

The national men’s volleyball team’s surge at the World Championships in Argentina was ended by a mighty Russian side late Wednesday night – local time – which defeated Greece 3-0 in their quarterfinal encounter. Greece will now battle for a place between fifth and eighth. Though failing to take a set, Greece pushed Russia all the way for each set it gained toward victory. The Russians broke away from a 20-20 deadlock late in the toughly contested opening set to edge through, 25-22. The score was repeated in the second set, and Greece accumulated just one point less in the third and final set. Greece suffered a setback before even the match began when Todor Baev, its best player at the tournament, was injured during the warmup. Baev recovered sufficiently to enter the game midway through the second set, but he was clearly affected. Baev and Captain Marios Giourdas were Greece’s top scorers with 11 points each. Russia’s Roman Yakovlev led all scorers with 13. Greece will now meet a disheartened host side, Argentina, which was deprived of a semifinals berth by France, through to the tournament’s top four for the first time. The French were victorious in their quarterfinal match with a 3-1 score. The winner of the Greece-Argentina game – to be televised early tomorrow morning, local time, at 3.10 a.m., by ET-1 – will go on to vie for fifth place. On its way to the quarterfinals, Greece needed to rebound from early losses in qualifying games, including a heavy 3-0 defeat to Yugoslavia, one of the tournament’s favorites, in second-phase group play. But back-to-back wins against the USA and China secured Greece’s quarterfinal berth. Coach Stelios Prosalikas hopes his players will show resilience again against Argentina. «I think the team will react in the same way,» Prosalikas said, while also praising his team for its valiant effort against Russia. «The sets were all loaded with points despite the fact that we didn’t hit maximum performance at any stage,» he added. Looking forward to the Athens Olympics in 2004, Prosalikas said this tournament has offered invaluable experience to his players. «The experience accumulated by the boys here, particularly toward the latter stages of the tournament, have been magnificent and perfect for our lead-up to the Athens Olympics,» he said.