FIVB - Volleyball World League

Press release

Finland top Belgium 3-2 to exit World League on high note

Olli Kunnari spikes the ball through Belgian block.

Tampere, Finland, July 4, 2014 – Finland and Belgium once again entertained the Finnish volleyball fans with a tight five-set match (23-25, 29-27, 22-25, 25-23, 15-8) on the final day of their pool play in this season’s FIVB Volleyball World League at the Tampere Ice Hall on Saturday.

Finland and Belgium were able to start the match without any pressure as the latter had already secured the top spot in pool C, while Finland landed in third place. Both teams showed high quality volleyball from the start, with excellent attacking versatility and spectacular defensive plays.

The Finns’ top scoring gunner was Urpo Sivula who had 24 points. Coaches from both sides gave a lot of responsibility to their young middle blockers – Tommi Siirila from Finland and Martijn Colson – who both responded to the challenge very well.

Key Points

·       Finland can no longer qualify for the Final Four in Group 2, but the Finns managed to play a good game against the Belgians who were defeated 3-2 twice.

·       Finland have surpassed their 2011 World League record number of five wins – they now have six victories this season.

·       Belgium have yet to win a five-set match because they have lost all four five-setters.

·       All other Pool C  teams have won at least two five-set matches each but Belgium have won five of their matches by a 3-1 score – more than all other Pool C teams combined.

·       Finland had four players scoring in double figures while Belgium had five; the Finns still outscored the Belgians 69-68.

Finland controlled the first set, leading both technical timeouts 8-6 and 16-13. Belgium started to show its potential as they took the lead on the 20-point mark until reaching set point. Finland were able to save set point 24-22 but the Red Dragons’ captain Hendrik Tuerlinckx, who came off the bench, sent the Finns with a powerful spike to claim the first set 25-23.

Finland started the second set with a barrage of powerful attacks from their opposite hitter Urpo Sivula who spearheaded the 8-5 drive. Suddenly, the momentum shifted as Belgian attacker Bram Van Den Vries scored five of the Belgian team’s next 11 points to grab the lead in the second technical timeout 16-15. Finland were quick to recover as Olli Kunnari’s quality attacks lifted the hosts to a 20-18 advantage, but Belgium retaliated to level the score at 20-all. Finland cleared Belgium with the first set point, and got three set points of their own, until the fourth one decisively favoured the home side 29-27.

Belgium gained an early lead, and maintained their lead throughout the set. The Belgian gap was biggest within five points at 17-12 but Finland managed to diminish the lead but could not convert the run to a win as the visiting side were first to reach the end of the third set 25-22.

The Belgians followed through with their momentum in the third set as their attacking and serving went more lethal against the home team to get a 20-16 advantage on the fourth set. Finland then made a miraculous recovery and stole the set from the Belgians 25-23.

Finland displayed a massive blocking show against the Belgians in the final set. The hosts blasted an 8-1 lead from five blocks, an ace and a spike and a Belgian error – delighting the Tampere crowd. Finland’s persistent offence rewarded them and their fans with a 15-8 win in the tiebreaker.

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