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Oranjes, Sweden, and Belarus cruise to straight wins on opening day in Almere

The players of the Dutch national team celebrate their straight win over Israel on the first day of the second round World Champs qualifier in Almere
Almere, Netherlands, October 2, 2013 – The national teams of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Belarus all caught a good start of their campaign at the second round qualifier for the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship Poland 2014 as they cruised to straight wins over Israel, Romania and Ukraine on the opening day of the tournament. The top three at the end of the round robin that is set to continue until this coming Sunday at Topsport Centre in Almere will make it to the third and last stage of the qualification process coming up in early January 2014.

Sweden opened the program of the tournament by routing Romania in three straight sets (28-26, 25-14, and 25-23). The first set was very close but it was finished by Sweden’s superstar Marcus Nilsson who at the end of the game chipped in with 25 points. Everything then went quite easy for Sweden that comfortably cashed the second (25-14) as well as the third set (25-23). “This is a great win for us” Nilsson said. “We did not know that much about our opponents but we played a great game today. We just take it match by match and of course our goal is to make the next round”.

Back from the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley where they celebrated their first appearance in a final round of the European Championship, the guys from Belarus showed no mercy for their neighbors from Ukraine winning their game in straight sets as well to emulate what Sweden had done earlier in the afternoon. Belarus claimed a 17:10 lead in the opening set but Ukraine fought their way back to cut the deficit to a minimum (23:22). Even though Ukraine was able to level the score a few times, it was Belarus that in the end pocketed the opening set (29-27). Belarus was not to stop anymore and with a double 25-19 cashed their first win in the tournament. “This was a very important victory as our goal is to be one of the three teams that will make the third round. Tomorrow against the Netherlands we will have to fight hard and show that we are the best side here in Almere” said Belarusian star Aleh Akhrem.

To complete the program of the opening day the Netherlands downed Israel in three sets as well (25-23, 25-20, and 25-21). Though the score line is pretty clear, the hosts had some troubles to stand the Israeli block from the start up to the end of the match. Niels Klapwijk top scored for the home side with 15 points. “We did not play that good today and we need to improve for the rest of the tournament” said Dutch spiker Jelte Maan. “We definitely need to play much better in the game we are set to play tomorrow with Belarus”.

On Thursday Sweden and Ukraine will open the program of the second day before Romania and Israel try to get their first win and the Netherlands take on Belarus later in the evening.

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