Tokyo, Japan, December 2, 2007 — European champions Spain downed African vice champions Tunisia in four sets on Sunday to end the men’s World Cup with a 7-4 record and finish in fifth place.
Man of the match Guillermo Falasca inspired the Spanish to a 25-16, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18 win at Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo, handing the Tunisians their 10th defeat of the tournament.
The Spanish were comfortably in control from the start against Tunisia, with Jose Luis Molto’s spike putting the Europeans five ahead at the first technical timeout.
There was a slight pause in play when Tunisia’s Hosni Karamosly injured his left hand and doubled over in pain, but Spain didn’t skip a beat and reached the second TTO leading 16-11 after a hard spike on the left from Manuel Sevillano.
Guillermo Falasca’s pip-point spike made it 17-11 and the Spanish were now running away with it. Soon they were leading 20-11, forcing Tunisia coach Antonio Giacobbe to call a timeout.
A huge diagonal spike from Sevillano made it 21-12 and then Israel Rodriguez popped up in the same spot to smash down for 23-14.
An ace from Miguel Angel Falasca ensured set point for Spain and the set was clinched when Tunisia captain Ghazi Guidara served into the net.
A howitzer of an ace from Marouane Garci put Tunisia 3-1 up in the second set and another from Skander Ben Tara added to a Rodriguez’s serve into the net put the North Americans two ahead at the first TTO.
Spain kept pressing, though, and took the lead at 14-13 through Javier Subiela’s spike and then Guillermo Falasca doubled that lead with a well-placed effort. A wide effort from Tunisia then gave Spain a three-point lead at the second TTO.
Spain quickly increased their lead to 20-15, causing Tunisia to call a timeout, but once again there was no stopping the Europeans closing out the set, even if the Tunisians pushed hard.
Subiela snapped in a vertical spike for set point but some good blocking from Tunisia reduced Spain’s lead to two before Subiela finally finished things off with another spike down the middle.
Guillermo Falasca was continuing to cause untold problems for the Tunisians with his spiking on the right — and sometimes left — but Hichem Kaabi was doing well himself on the Tunisian right, making sure his team kept tabs on the Spanish.
It was Kaabi that gave Tunisia the slightest of advantages at the second TTO, with another of his well-executed spikes on the right.
Noureddine Hfaiedh increased the lead at 17-15 and Kaabi renewed the two-point gap at 18-16. Chokri Jouini then blocked Guillermo Falasca superbly to give the Tunisians a 19-16 lead.
Spain were on the ropes in the set and coach Marcelo R. Mendez called a timeout to try to remedy things.
A big block from Miguel Angel Falasca reduced Tunisia’s lead to one at 20-19, but Tunisia battled back and Guidara slapped down a loose ball to make it 22-19. Mendez called another timeout, but it didn’t do any good.
Ben Tara blocked well for 23-19, Kaabi smashed a spike against the blockers and out of bounds for set point and he then popped up on the left to smash another spike against the Spanish blockers and out to wrap up things.
The Spanish were stung into action and looked more focused at the start of the fourth set, leading by four at the first TTO.
Rodriguez sliced an ace through the Tunisians to put Spain 13-10 ahead and despite the Kaabi-inspired North Africans pushing hard the Europeans arrived at the second TTO leading by four.
Rodriguez spiked from the left for 20-14 and Subiela smashed one in for 22-16 before his carbon-copy effort made it 23-17.
Spain closed out the match momentarily. Molto stepped up on the right to fire one home before Guillermo Falasca finished things off with an uncontrollable spike on the right.