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World League Group 3 preview: Debutants looking forward to big stage

 
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 17, 2015 - Debutants Montenegro are looking forward to making their first appearance on the FIVB World League stage after they earned qualification by winning the Euro League.

Montenegro’s squad features Paris Volley’s Marko Bojic, one of a number of players who play in top international leagues. They host the first of two weekends of competition and the aim is to maintain their current progress and development when they take on Turkey, Puerto Rico and Tunisia in Pool F. 

Pool F

“We are making our debut in this competition and trying to make our way to the top,” Montenegro captain Vojin Cacic said. 

“The FIVB's decision to award Montenegro a berth in the competition is a great honour and pleasure, but also a huge commitment,” Montenegro Volleyball Federation President Cvetko Pajkovic said. “We'll do everything we can to present Montenegro in the best possible light, both on and off the court. We will also take advantage of our participation in the World League to promote volleyball in our country.”

Turkey narrowly missed out on a Group 3 victory in 2014 when they lost in five sets to Cuba in last year’s final. However, Emanuele Zanini’s squad features no fewer than six players from top international club Halkbank Ankara, most notably national captain Emre Batur and they will be favourites to progress from Pool F.

Pool G

Slovakia will host the Group 3 final round in their capital Bratislava. Italian coach Flavio Gulinelli is highly experienced and in leading players, captain and setter Michael Masny and Tomas Kmet, he has a pair who have enjoyed success for their club sides this season. 

“We are proud to be among the best teams in the world.” Slovak Federation president Lubor Halanda said. “Our goal for this season is to play our best volleyball and advance to Group 2.”

Emre Batur
Emre Batur is one of six Halkbank Ankara players selected by Turkey coach Emanuele Zanini

Slovakia will take on China, Greece and Mexico, with Mexico and Greece hosting the two weekends of competition. 

China will be out to improve in their third-place finish in 2014 and they will be competitive under their coach Xie Guochen and captain Zhi Yuan. Greece meanwhile are playing in their first World League since 2005 after finished second in the Euro League. 

Pool H

Venezuela have turned to new coach Vincenzo Nacci to lead them in their first World League appearance since 2009 and they will face African champions Egypt, who last competed in 2010, Spain and Kazakhstan, who are making their tournament debut having finished third in the AVC Cup. 

“We are all eager to play and we have set high expectations this year,” Venezuela playmaker Jose “Chema” Carrasco said. 

Newly-crowned African club champions Al Ahly will provide 11 players to Egypt’s squad and their star player is opposite hitter Ahmed Kotb, who was named MVP in the African Club Championship final after scoring 26 points in an outstanding performance. 

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