USA, ranked sixth in the world, edged Cuba 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-23) in the first semifinal to record their 14th win in 21 matches against their neighbours including six in the last seven games. The second semifinal saw Poland beat hosts Bulgaria for the eighth time in the last 11 matches, winning 3-0 (25-23 25-20 25-18) in front of Bulgaria President Rossen Plevneliev and 11,000 passionate fans.
“We are very happy with this victory”, Poland captain Marcin Mozdzonek said. “It is the first semifinal in the World League that we have won so we are very excited and we cannot wait for tomorrow. It is a historical moment for all of us. Although the Bulgarians served really well and despite the atmosphere in the hall, we handled the situation.”
Earlier Mathew Anderson, who scored 13 points in USA’s victory, said: “It was a good match, we played pretty well and followed the match plan that we had prepared. Our defensive action after the Cuban blocks worked and we hit really well in transition which gave Cuba a hard time.”
The 2012 World League Final at 20:55 (local time) on Sunday will be the first time both sides have met not only in a World League final but in a final of any FIVB competition. It is the first World League final appearance for Poland, who have a 1974 World Championship and a 1976 Olympic title to their name, having previously recorded a best result of bronze at last year’s competition.
USA will be hoping for a repeat of 2008 when they won the World League and Olympic titles. In total USA have a World League, a World Cup, three Olympic titles and a World Championship crown to their name.
Head to head, Poland lead 13:10 including a straight sets win at last year’s World Cup however the only previous medal encounter between the two countries was a play off for the 2007 World League bronze medal which USA won 3-1.
Meanwhile the bronze medal match at 17:30 will feature 1998 champions Cuba, who will be chasing their third World League bronze medal, and Bulgaria who have never stepped on the World League podium, boasting a best finish of fourth in 1994, 2004 and 2006. Cuba lead the head-to-head record 20:13.