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Despite five-set loss to Finland, Belgium take Final Four berth in first World League appearance


Belgium celebrate after clinching Final Four berth

Tampere, Finland, July 4, 2014 – Belgium took the needed point against Finland in order to secure the top spot in Pool C and qualify for the Final Four in Sydney. Still the home team took a 3-2 victory after a two- and-a-half-hour thriller (19-25, 25-22, 20-25, 27-25, 15-12).  

Key Points
• Despite a 3-2 defeat to Finland, World League debutants Belgium advance to the Group 2 Final Four in Sydney, topping Pool C with 24 points. The Belgians will join Pool D winners France and hosts Australia.

• Belgium have won one match (3-1) and lost two at the tiebreaker against Finland in their 2014 World League campaign. • Belgium have never won a five-set match this season, losing three five- setters.

• With Belgium reaching 24 points, Canada, who will play Australia on July 5 and 6, will maintain their second place in the group but lost any chances to progress to the Group 2 Finals in Sydney.

• Finland, third in the pool with 14 points, were already out of contention for a Final Four spot, having lost six World League matches and a total of 25 sets.

• Belgium and Finland will meet again on Saturday at 16:00 local time at the Hakametsa Ice Arena in Tampere.


The start of the first period was very close. First Belgium took advantage at 4-2, then Finland overturned the scores before the first technical timeout with a block of Kontanstin Shumov that led the home team to 8-7. Belgium quickly jumped to take control of the set at 10-9 with a winning spike of Sam Deroo. Deroo went to serve and his serves thrashed Finland’s reception to make 14-9 for the Belgians. The visitors continued their play with an ace scored by Pieter Coolman and two points by Pieter Veerhes (17-10). Finland managed to recover after sharpening their attack at 20-13, but the opening set went 25-19 to Belgium.

After a close-fought first part of the second frame, the visiting team was leading by one point at the first TTE but soon the gap increased at 17-14. Despite Belgium’s Bram Van Den Dries put on a brilliant series of attacks, Finland reacted with spikes from Mikko Oivanen and strong serves from Eemi Tervaportti to tie 17-17. In the last part of the set Van Den Dries and Deroo gave Belgium a 21-19 lead but Finland changed tactics, replacing opposite Olli-Pekka Ojansivu with Urpo Sivula and with Mikko Esko taking the setter’s place from Tervaportti. Sivula scored some crucial points in attack and assisted Shumov in blocking. The change of tactics was successful and Finland earned the second set 25- 22. Oivanen scored eight points in the second period.

Belgium’s Van Den Dries was the most efficient player in the third set, scoring the highest points-per-period tally of the evening with 10 points. In addition, eight of these points came by spiking. Belgium controlled the set with more productive attacks and claimed it 25- 20. Finland continued with Esko as a setter and Sivula as the opposite. Sam Deroo made the decisive point, which gave Belgium the victory of the frame and that one crucial point to secure a berth in the FIVB World League Final Four.

The fourth set was a stomach-turner. Belgium took an easy 4-0 lead to make it 8-3 at the TTE. Mikko Oivanen was then replaced by Finland’s captain Antti Siltala. Siltala, Olli Kunnari and Sivula brought Finland back into the game with spirit and successful spiking to take a one-point advantage at 12-11. Finland increased their lead at 23-20, but Belgium fought back. At the third set ball the home team close it 27-25. Sivula scored three of Finland’s last points in the set and levelled Van Den Vries’s 10 points per set-tally.

The fifth and final period was on Finland's hands. The spikes of Kunnari, Sivula and Siltala were too hard to handle for Belgium, which trailed quickly to 5-1. The hosts continued to play aggressively to make it 10-5, but the Belgians hit back. After the Finns were leading 13-12, a long rally gave them the match ball secured by a winning triple block.Finland defeated Belgium at the tiebreaker 15-12.
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