Israel survive Swiss comeback to claim third straight victory
Switzerland is third with six, while Greece is ranked fourth after on Friday they beat Montenegro at the tie-break. The first, second and third placed teams at the end of the tournament coming to a close on Sunday will get the right to continue their World Championship campaign via the third and last qualification round that is scheduled for early January 2014.
The third competition day at Metrowest Sports Palace in Ra’anana got started with Hungary playing Latvia. Latvia caught a very promising start going up 12:9 in the opening set but Hungary clawed back to level the score at 15 all. However, it was again Latvia to break away (21:17) and keep control of the game until sealing the final 25-21. Hungary showed another image in the second set opening with a 4:0 run before Latvia was able to respond and keep the score tight up to 10:10. Hungary got a small margin after the second technical time-out (19:17) and did not slow their pace down the final stretch for the 1:1 (25-21). Hungary showed great defense play in the third set thereby controlling the game with ease and cashing that section of the game at 25-17 and after keeping that winning momentum also in the early phases of the fourth set (8:5, 13:7) imposed their tempo to finish it off at 25-10 for their second win in the tournament. Agnes Pallag top scored for the winning side with 20 points while Ance Auzina registered 13 for Latvia.
As they took the court for the second match of the day, Israel and Switzerland were going to play for the top spot in the standing of the tournament having both recorded two wins so far in the competition. Israel went off to a flying start (13:8, 16:10) but the Swiss fought back thereby reducing their gap to only two points (18:16). Though the guests from Switzerland played with good tempo, they still could not prevent Israel from winning the opening set at 25-22. Israel set the pace of the game right from the start of the second set (5:3, 8:6) and although the Swiss were able to display good actions, the home heroines went for the provisional 2:0 (25-21). The course of the game changed quite dramatically in the third set where Switzerland claimed a 16:9 lead and followed on that good start to go for a speedy 25-14. Something similar happened also in the fourth where the Swiss could lead all the way through a terrific 25-11 to call for the tie-break. Israel could finally regroup there (6:4, 8:4, 11:6) but the Swiss showed great fighting spirit to storm back and make it 13 all. Switzerland even had a match ball but Israel did not lose composure and ultimately cashed the 17-15 that sealed the final 3:2 on the scoreboard to be sole team with a perfect record of three wins in as many matches since the start of the tournament. Laura Unternährer top scored in the game with 23 points for Switzerland while Ukrainian-born Tatiana Artmenko paced Israel with 18.
Greece and Montenegro crossed their ways for the last match of the day and it was another close one with the score standing at 1:1 after two sets. Montenegro played superbly in the third set going up 11:8 and 16:11 and continued with that positive trend to make it 25-20 for a 2:1 lead in sets that only a few could have predicted. Greece responded in set 4 going up 8:4 and 15:7 before wrapping it up at 25-19 to prolong the game to the tie-break. That long Volleyball night in Israel finished with Greece setting the pace of the game also in the final set (5:3, 7:4, 11:5) all the way to the final 15-8 whereby they cashed their second victory in the competition. Tatjana Bokan of Montenegro scored 27 points in the game while Eleni Kiosi amassed 24 for Greece.