LEIPZIG, Germany, January 10, 2004 - World Championship runner's up Russia stormed home in the final of the Men's European Olympic Qualification Tournament in Germany to qualify for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games after beating the Netherlands 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) in Saturday's final.
The Russian Rockets overpowered the Dutch squad impressively and finished a tournament where they didn't drop one set. As clear favorites Russia did what it had to do and thumped the 1996 Olympic Champions in just over one hour. The Netherlands, playing again without their injured captain Reinder Nummerdor, couldn't repeat its surprising victory over Russia during the 2003 European Championships.
The big difference between the two teams was the block and serve. Russia scored 15 kill blocks, while the Netherlands only made three points in this skill. Furthermore, Russia put 11 aces on the scoreboard, while the Dutch players only scored four direct serves. After losing the second set, the Dutch coach Bert Goedkoop slowly introduced some substitutes, an early sign that the Netherlands could never compete against the strong and tall Russians.
Russian spiker Serguei Tetioukhine was the best scorer of the match with 15 points. His teammate Stanislav Dineykin made 14 points. On the Dutch side, middle blocker Mike van de Goor was the only player finishing with double figures, making 10 points. Star attackers Richard Schuil and Guido Gortzen didn't play well, making only eight points each.
"It is a great day for Russian Volleyball, as we reached our goal," Russian setter and captain Vadim Khamuttskikh said. "The Dutch team fought until the end and we couldn't relax and be confident about the victory until the match was over. Now we will prepare for the Olympics".
"I am very happy about finishing this event successfully,' Russian head coach Guennadi Chipouline said. "This tournament was hard for us, because we didn't have a lot of time for preparation. The players are so busy with their clubs in different leagues and countries, so we could only start with the preparation at the end of December".
"We worked for our chance and fought till the end, but unfortunately it was not enough," the Dutch setter Nico Freriks, who replaced Nummerdor as captain, said.
"We didn't have any chance against their serve, block and attacks," the Dutch coach Bert Goedkoop added. "We have a last chance to qualify for the Olympics in May now and I think if we remain in this good form, we will have a good chance to qualify.'
The best non qualified European teams according to the FIVB World Rankings - France, Poland and the Netherlands - will get another chance in May 2004 during the World Olympic Qualification Tournaments to be held in Spain, Portugal and Japan.