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The Netherlands and Germany qualify for the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championships

The Dutch girls celebrate their qualification for next year's World Championships in Japan
Almere, The Netherlands, July 18, 2009. Though there is still one day to go in Almere, today it was already decided who will participate in the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan next year. First the Netherlands beat Azerbaijan with clear numbers and a few hours later that achievement was repeated by their German colleagues. Tomorrow all four teams will play for the honour in the Dutch city.

Azerbaijan vs. The Netherlands 0-3 (20-25, 19-25, 15-25)

A crucial match opened the second day of the 3rd Round Tournament to the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Almere. If the Netherlands had won, the Dutch women would have been certain of participating in the World Championship next year. Azerbaijan had to win to still have a good chance on qualifying for the next edition of the Worlds slated for fall 2010 in Japan.
The Netherlands started better than the women of Azerbaijan. After two unforced errors and a rotation error of Azerbaijan, the Dutch led by four points (2:6). The women of coach Avital Selinger had the better play in the first phase, maintaining a lead of two up to five points (5:8, 5:10, 10:13, 13:17). The Azerbaijanis had troubles in passing the Dutch block and star player Natalya Mammadova could not score much this first set. At 15:20, Azerbaijan coach Faig Garayev called for his second time out, but when Dutch setter Kim Staelens spiked the next point for Holland through the centre, the believe on the Azerbaijani side was broken. A perfect block of Chaïne Staelens ended the first set (20-25).
In the second set, again the Netherlands immediately took the lead in the opening phase (1:4, 4:7). Then Kim Staelens started serving (6:9) a few tricky balls that the Azerbaijan defence could not control. Meanwhile the Dutch defence at the net was working optimally and the Netherlands had widened the margin to eight points (8:16) by the end of Staelens’ service series. The Dutch train was clearly running steady, whereas the Azerbaijanis could not find their rhythm (13:22). Even Mammadova could not make the difference this time. After a time out of Selinger and the desperate vindication of Azerbaijan, the Dutch women finally cashed their fifth set point: 19-25.
The third set finally brought some real tension. The teams scored in turns in the first phase, the Dutch standing on the good side of the score (2:3, 4:5, 6:7). But with the hammering spikes of Dutch captain Manon Flier and Chaïne Staelens, the Dutch lead suddenly consisted of four points again (10:14). And when the Azerbaijan passing started failing again, the gap was up to six points at the second technical time out. At 14:20, Garayev substituted Lidiya Maksimenko for Darya Zamanova, one Dutch point later the losing coach called his team on the side, but it could not stop the fantastic play on the other side of the net. At 15:24 veteran Ingrid Visser served for the match and a well placed ball of Chaïne Staelens finished the job.
Azerbaijani coach Garayev sent his assistant Aleksandr Chervyakov to the press conference room. Chervyakov congratulated the Dutch team. “One of the main reasons it could not work on our side today is yesterday’s match. There was a lot of tension and disappointment after that. We did not have enough time to recover from that loss.”
Team captain Oksana Parkhomenko felt the same: “Yesterday it was a very difficult match for us. Today we tried to work on the mistakes we made yesterday, but without success. Still I would like to congratulate the Netherlands.”
Dutch coach Avital Selinger: “Today we played better than yesterday because we know Azerbaijan already and they play more tempo than Slovenia. On top of that we were able to really control Mammadova for the first time. Even though we are almost qualified now, we will still play to win tomorrow for ourselves and our fans.”
Captain Flier stated: “Today we could really show the audience what we are capable of. Though I know we can still do better”, she added with a big smile on her face.

Slovenia vs. Germany 0:3 (14-25, 22-25, 20, 23-25)

After the tiring match of yesterday, Germany played against outsider Slovenia. Still the German women started eager and concentrated and after an unstoppable ball of yesterday’s top scorer Margareta Kozuch, Germany led with four points of margin (6:10). Slovenia however fought itself back to 10:11, but setter Kathleen Weiss found her spikers perfectly again today. The quick and steady play on the German side resulted in a margin of even six points at the second technical time out. At 10:18, Slovenian coach Tilen Kozamernik called his team on the side, but the gap was too big for Slovenia to close (12:20, 13:22). Weiss reacted promptly on a foul pass on the Slovenian side (14:24) and Germany immediately cashed its first set point: 14-25.
In the second set again the German women walked away from their Eastern European opponent quickly; at the first technical time out they led already by five points. A straight ace of Kozuch even brought 3:10 on the score board and after a killing block of Maren Brinker, Kozamernik called for a time out (3:12). Then Slovenian captain Karmen Kocar finally put some service pressure on the team (from 3:12 to 9:12). Slovenia even came back to 12:13, but at the second technical time out the margin stood at four points again.
Slovenia kept on fighting and finally evened the score at 17:17. And when the referee noticed a technical mistake of Weiss, Slovenia led for the first time in this set (19:18). In the exciting final phase the score evened several times, but at 22:24 Germany cashed its first set point again.
Slovenia opened the score in the first set and took a modest lead (4:2, 5:3). A killing block of Corina Ssuschke made the German women lead for the first time this set and with Maren Brinker on serve, Germany lead by three points at the first technical time out. Slovenia evened the score again at 9, but an ace of Weiss brought the 9:12 on the score board. Slowly but surely the German women widened the margin (10:14, 11:16), but at 15:17 German coach Giovanni Guidetti called his team on the side. The difference of two points remained in tact up for a while and Slovenia even took over the lead at 22:21. The German drums on the tribune were loudly heard when Germany was in the leading position again (22:23), followed by a standing ovation when Ssuschke finished the match. Germany and the Netherlands have convincingly qualified for the World Championship slated for fall 2010 in Japan.
Coach Guidetti was really happy for his team: “For three of my attackers (Kozuch, Brinke and Beier) this was the first important event. Yesterday we played great, today decent. We came here to qualify and succeeded.”
Team captain Christiane Fürst was a bit disappointed for the German fans, because her team did not play very well today. “But we won and will go to Japan next year. I played the World Championship two years ago and that was a great experience. I am looking forward to next year’s edition.”

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