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Sammelvuo hopes younger players will boost Finns in World League

Finland finished 16th in last year's World League
 Lausanne, Switzerland, May 30, 2014 – Finland will begin their 10th year in the FIVB World League this weekend against Canada in Calgary. Former long-time captain Tuomas Sammelvuo begins his second year as head coach, hoping to add depth to his roster. 

In Calgary, Finland will bring in four new players to the squad they used for the European Championship Qualifiers in the last two weekends when they clinched a berth in the European Championship finals for the fifth consecutive year. Brand new faces on the Finnish squad include setter Ville Juntura and outside hitter Eemeli Kouki. 

Younger players on the squad, including Elviss Krastins, Niklas Seppänen and Tommi Siirilä, are taking their second steps at the higher international level. 

Finland will be without long-time setter Mikko Esko, Olli Kunnari and Konstantin Shumov from their roster for the first two weeks of the World League in Canada and Australia. 

Matti Oivanen, one of three middle blockers on the team, is currently the only player who has played the past nine seasons in the World League for Finland. Oivanen has played 94 World League games so far, missing only two in the past nine years. Oivanen and his twin, Mikko, recently made Finnish volleyball history by becoming the most-played siblings in the national team with 404 games together. They passed Miika and Janne Heikkinen who had 397 games.

Sammelvuo is expecting progress for his team. 

“This year in our pool, the FIVB World League really is a ‘world’ league because we are travelling to Canada, Australia and Belgium,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to get more experience and playing time for our younger players at this level of play. Our team will fight until the last ball drops in every game. This team never gives up.”  

Finland will meet Canada in Calgary on Saturday and Sunday. One interesting point is that both opposites on the opposing teams played together: Dallas Soonias with Mikko Oivanen in Fujian, China, and Gavin Schmitt with Urpo Sivula in Arkas Izmir, Turkey.


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