PUNE, India (Aug. 6, 2009) – Host India made more history Thursday night by topping Belgium 18-25, 25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 15-11 during the third and concluding day of Pool E competition of the 2009 FIVB Men’s Junior World Championship being played at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, India.
Playing in just its first top level second round classification in its five appearances in the Men’s Junior World Championship, India continues to be the surprise team. With the victory, India advanced to the tournament’s semifinals as Pool E’s second seed. Saturday’s semifinals matches are Pool F winner Brazil facing India and Pool E winner Argentina taking on Cuba.
Singh Gurinder scored a match-high 26 points for India with 22 spikes on 38 attempts. Mandurai Naveen Raja contributed 20 points, while Mandeep Singh charted 10 points in the victory.
Belgium was led by Kevin Klinkenberg’s 21 points, while Pieter Verhees and Sam Deroo chalked up 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Belgium won nearly every statistical category with slim margins of 60-59 in spikes, 14-11 in blocks and even at 3-all in aces. However, India took advantage of 32 Belgium errors and made only 19 of its own to make up the difference.
Belgium bolted to an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout of the opening set. India closed to within 11-7 with a block. India moved to three at 14-11 with another block, but Belgium went into the second technical timeout up 16-11 after an India attack error. Van Hirtum and Verhees combined for a Belgium block out of the break to increase the advantage to 17-11. De Schrijver was part of a triple block lifting Belgium to a 20-13 advantage. Van Hirtum hit the winning set shot at 25-20. Verhees and Klinkenberg led Belgium with five points each in the set, while Belgium scored six points on blocks.
Belgium took an early 4-1 lead, but India rallied back to within one at 6-5 after a Gurinder ace. India put up a block to complete the rally to 7-all. India took the lead at 10-9 and Naveen Raja extended the cushion to 14-12 with a kill. India increased its margin to 16-13 at the second technical timeout, then put up a block at 18-14. India scored on a Belgium error to move to 22-17. Naveen Raja ended the set at 25-18 with a kill, his 10th point of the set.
India started out up 4-1 and increased its lead to 7-3 on a Vaishnav block. Verhees served an ace to slice the gap to 8-6. Naveen Raja smashed consecutive kills lifting India ahead 12-7. India extended its lead to 14-7 on two additional points. India reached the second technical timeout up 16-8. Belgium cut into its deficit with consecutive points at 18-12. India cruised the final points of the set to a 25-16 victory. Gurinder and Naveen Raja scored six points apiece in the set in pacing India.
India reached an early 3-1 lead in the fourth set following a Belgium attack error. Vaishnav took a quick set for a score at 6-3. Belgium scored three unanswered points to recover into a 7-all tie. A Belgium triple block led it to lead 8-7 at the first technical timeout. India rushed back in front 11-9 with a 4-1 scoring spurt. However, Belgium returned to the lead at 12-11 with three unanswered points of its own. Verhees knocked down an India spike at 15-13. Belgium increased its lead to 18-15 after an India attack sailed long. Belgium reached set point at 24-22 and put away the set at 25-22 with a Van Hirtum spike. Belgium tallied four blocks in the fourth set and Van Hirtum scored five individual points. Van Hirtum knocked down a kill to put Belgium back to within four at 10-6. Out of an India timeout, Belgium scored two additional points to move within 10-8. Singh and Gurinder combined for a block pushing the lead to 13-9. Naveen Raja scored the winner down the left side at 15-11.
Gurinder and Sangamanath Somnath collected consecutive kills to give India a 5-3 charge to start the fifth set. After a timeout, Sangamanath Somnath spiked an overpass to increase the India lead to 6-3. Naveen Raja charted consecutive aces to put India in control at 9-4. India formed a double block to win the next point at 10-4.