Dutchmen make it three in a row in Almere
Ukraine got their second win in the tournament as they beat Romania 3:1 (27-25, 25-23, 18-25, and 25-14) after sweeping Sweden in straight sets on Thursday. Belarus also improved their win/loss record to 2:1 after beating Israel 3:1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-18, and 25-22).
The first, second and third placed teams at the end of the single round robin tournament coming to a close on Sunday will make it to the third and last stage of the qualification process for the 2014 Worlds coming up in early January.
Ukraine started out strong in their match with Romania (4:1) but their opponents were able to claw back and flip the charts around (12:14). However, Ukraine’s top scorer Sergiy Tyutlin restored the lead for his side at 15:14 and after a very close run, Tyutlin killed another two spikes to make it 27-25 in the end. Romania set the pace of the game in the second set (8:5) but Ukraine fought their way back to move to the front after the second technical time-out (18:16) and finish it off at 25-23 for the provisional 2:0. Romania surprised their opponents in the third set storming out to a 19:15 lead and this time never looked back to cash that section of the game by the score of 25-18. Still Ukraine was able to regroup in the fourth set and easily cruised to the final 25-14 to claim their second win in the tournament and take three points from this match where Tyutlin top scored with 19 points while Marian Iulian Bala registered 16 for Romania in their losing effort.
After losing on Thursday to the Netherlands, Belarus found back their best play to beat Israel 3:1 and record their second victory in Almere. Belarus dominated the scene in the opening set (25-17) and even though it did dictate the tempo of the game also in the early phases of the second, Israel was able to come back and level the score twice, first at 13 and then at 16 all. Israel changed gear and made it 18:16 and 22:19 to cash the second set at 25-22 for the 1:1. The score was very tight up to 14 all in the third set but Belarus accelerated the pace and cruised to a comfortable 25-18 before they controlled the game also in the fourth set to finally claim their second victory in the competition (25-22). Siarhei Antanovich top scored for Belarus with 23 points while Alexander Shafranovich paced Israel with 16.
To complete the program on Friday night, the Netherlands and Sweden delighted more than 550 fans in Almere with a breath-taking first set which ended by the score of 36-34 for the “Oranjes”. Sweden had many opportunities to cash the provisional 1:0 but did not exploit any of these before middle-blocker Wytze Kooistra sealed the final 36-34 for the hosts. After that, the Netherlands could control the game quite comfortably cashing the second set with the score of 25-16 and doing the same also in the third (25-21) to top the standing of the tournament with maximum points – nine – after three rounds. Sweden’s Fredrik Gustavsson top scored in the game with 20 points while Thijs ter Horst (pictured) was the most prolific player for the Netherlands with 18.