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 Press Release
Romania squeaks by Slovenia, Portugal dumps Greece in Pool G

Portugal put in another impressive performance to the delight of the home fans

Povoa de Varzim, Portugal, May 28, 2009 — Romania successfully opened their 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship campaign with a thrilling five setter over Slovenia in second-round Pool G, while Portugal downed Greece 3-1 for their second win of the tournament.

Romania jumped out to an early lead in the first set thanks to a speedy attack, but Slovenia recovered to level the score at 6-6 before taking a 2-point lead themselves. Romania battled back with good serves and effective blocks to take a 17-13 lead, causing Slovenia coach Gregor Hribar to call a timeout. The pep talk worked as Slovenia tied the score at 20-20 before getting an ace from Mitja Gasparini and a nice double block from Rok Staler and Alen Pajenk to increase their advantage to 23-21. Slovenia went on to win the set 25-22.

In the second set, the serves from Romania - Florin Voinea scored an ace – were too much for Slovenia's reception and the men from Ljubljana saw their opponents run out to a 7-3 lead. Hribar once again called for a timeout, this time with less effect. A string of blocks by Adrian Gontariu, Dan Borota and Andrei Laza gave Romania a 22-18 advantage and they went on to close the set 25-20.

In the third set, Romania adopted a very simple formula: strong serves, solid blocks and a fluid attack to gain a solid 8-2 advantage. Romania was in cruise control at 20-10 before the Slovenians knew what had hit them. A rapid end to the set arrived shortly thereafter at 25-13. 

Spurred on by their experienced coach Stelian Moculescu, the Romanians almost closed out the match 3-1 but allowed Slovenia to snatch the fourth set and force a tie-breaker.

The fifth set seemed destined to go to Slovenia, but destiny wasn't fulfilled. Romania closed the match with three consecutive blocks.

Slovenia's Tine Urnaut and Romania’s Adrian Gontariu were joint top scorers, both bagging 24 points.

"It was a very tough match," said Romanian coach Moculescu. "Slovenia played very well in the first set, but everything changed in the second and third, where we did practically everything well. On the other hand, in the fourth set we played at a very low level. In the fifth set we played better and had a little bit of luck to score this victory."

Slovenian coach Hribar was much less diplomatic when speaking about his own side.

"We played much worse than yesterday," he said. "We won the first set and afterwards, in the second and third set, we made childish errors that cannot be made at this level. I made some changes in the team and that worked out, mainly in the fourth set. In the last frame we made some more errors, but it was also a little of bad luck that influenced the final outcome of the match."

In the day's second match, Portugal won its second match of the tournament with a 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-22 victory over Greece. Just like they did in their straight-sets victory over Denmark on Opening Day, Portugal oozed confidence and took risks on serves and on the attack, with their only setback coming in a forgettable second set.

The first set was extremely balanced in the first stages (3:3, 7:7), but Portugal eventually sped up after the first technical time-out (12:8) with Rui Santos, Valdir Sequeira and Flávio Cruz scoring with their blocks and attacks. Nevertheless, Greece didn’t lost their fighting spirit, keeping constantly running after Portugal and was even able to decrease the gap from 17:21 to 20:21. Afterwards, the power of Valdir Sequeira’s service and the attacks of João José totally confused the Greek receivers and Portugal finished the set at 25-21.
Greece tipped off quite strongly the second set. Keeping under control the strong services of the hosts, the players of coach Konstantinos Arseniadis sailed away a bit (3:1 and 5:2), but watched Portugal tie the score (9-9) with an unstoppable spike of Rui Santos. Greece sped up, once again, their game, mainly in the service and in their side-out to lead the way at the second technical time-out (16:12). A powerful service of Greek captain Nikolaos Roumeliotis that fell directly on the Portuguese side of the court spread up even more the gap on the scoreboard (17:12), forcing the Portuguese to risk and eventually fail their services. Greece quite logically seized the set at 25-18 and the set count was even.
In the third set there was another shift. Portugal pressured from the beginning, being rewarded with a comfortable advantage (5:2, 10:5), but a series of errors in the block allowed Greece to close-up (10:7). Sequeira and Cruz granted Portugal an even larger advantage (12:8), but the Greeks created once again some danger (13:12). With Sequeira in the serving area, Portugal increased once again the difference on the scoreboard, with a double-block of João José and Flávio Cruz fixing a reassuring margin for the second technical time-out (16:12). With the supremacy of Valdir’s service, well joined by the efficacy of his teammates in the decisive rallies on the net, Portugal needed only to keep up with their lead until the final 25-20.      
In the fourth and final set, Portugal entered determined to secure the victory and the provisional first place in the Pool. After the first technical time-out, the home team led comfortably the way (8:3). When the second mandatory stop arrived, the difference between the two teams stood at 10 points (16:10). But the anxiety of closing the match almost betrayed Portugal, so that Greece bounced back quite dangerously (first at 20:21 and then at 21:22). Fortunatley for the home fans, middle blocker Rui Santos scored the 24:22 in the attack and served an ace for the final 25-22.
Valdir Sequeira, from Portugal, was the best scorer of the match (28), while captain Nikolaos Roumeliotis squeezed in with 16 points for Greece.
Portuguese coach Juan Diaz commented: “Today our victory was much more difficult, but also because the match had much more quality. Our block improved and our service caused much more damage. What happened in the second set was normal, since we accused some tension and Greece, as they are very experienced, caused us some problems. But it was important the general attitude of the team, that showed cohesion and knew how to handle the pressure”.
Local captain João José added: “We ended the match experiencing some problems because there we relaxed a bit and we stopped pressuring. We made mistakes and had to run after our opponents in the score. But it was important because in a moment of pressure we managed to handle it. The block and the defence worked today very well”.
Greek captain Nikolaos Roumeliotis: “Portugal won because they played better than us. Their service was very good and created many problems to our reception. We aren’t playing well, at least for the moment. We played one or two sets and then we fell apart”.
His coach Konstantinos Arseniadis concluded: “Congratulations to Portugal, since they played better than us and they deserved to win. The match consisted of two main sections. The first two sets were balanced, but, afterwards, Portugal led the scoreboard and their service shattered our reception. As our captain said, we still aren’t ready, since we had a very short time for training together. Our main goal is to perform well at the European Championships slated for next September in Turkey”.

Next up for Portugal is a clutch match against Romania in the late game on Friday, with Denmark facing Greece in the opening match.

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31/05/2009 Portugal reigns supreme, Romania and Slovenia clinch additional spots in third round
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26/05/2009 Strong teams with high expectations ready to compete in Povoa de Varzim
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