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Finland wins epic five-set thriller

Finnish players try to dig the ball back to play.

Tampere, Finland, June 26, 2009 - Finland scored a great victory in an exciting five-set thriller against Venezuela in a World League home match at Tampere Ice Hall.

Finland eventually won the final set 27-25 in a tiebreaker that took over a half an hour to play.

The Finnish spectators shout like mad during the last twenty minutes of the match and they stand every time Finland has a match ball. When Finland wins, the crowd goes almost crazy.

Finland has now two wins from five matches and Venezuela one win against Finland in Caracas.

The playing was sometimes quite nervous from both of the teams and they made a lot of easy mistakes. At time to time the game was however on a very high level.

The Finns had to play without their captain Tuomas Sammelvuo because of an injury he got in the morning practice on Friday. Spiker Mikko Oivanen was the best scorer with 22 points. Olli Kunnari made 19 points.

The best scorer in Venezuelan team was Luis Diaz with 20 points. Ivan Marquez and Thomas Ereu took 17 points.

In the first set both teams started attacking well and at the first technical time out Venezuela was leading 8-7. Then the Finns made some mistakes in their spikes and Venezuela was leading at 16-13 although South Americans made a lot of mistakes in their serves. The problems in the Finnish attack continued all the way till the end and Venezuelans won the set easily 25-19.

Finland started the second set like a new team taking 4-0 lead and Venezuelan head coach Jose Gutierrez had to take a time out already at this point. Soon it was 8-2, 14-8 and 18-12. Then Venezuelans took three straight points thanks to the difficult serves of Ivan Marguez. Then Luis Diaz served also very well and Venezuela closed the gap at 20-20. The end of the set was very tight, but it went finally to Finns by 26-24.

The even fight continued in the third set. Venezuela took the lead 8-7 at the first technical time out and was leading also at 16-13 thanks to a couple of good blocks. Venezuela was slightly in control, but at the last moment Finland started a real fight and equaled the set at 24-24. Then Venezuela took the two last points and that was that for the third set.

Finland started the fourth set with excellent serves and attacks and took a comfortable seven point lead at 10-3. The set continued the same way and Finns stayed in a strong lead 16-7 and 20-10. Venezuelans lost their fighting spirit almost totally and Finland won the set very easily 25-13.

The last set is often a thriller and so it was also this time. And a huge one. When the set numbers were 25-25 everything was still totally open! Then Finnish center Jukka Lehtonen spiked two last points and Finland was the winner.

  

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