Poland and France stay on course, Russia recover in European Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament
Berlin, Germany, January 7, 2016 – Poland and France clutched its second victory in straight sets, while Russia recovered with their second victory on the third day of the European Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament at Max-Schmeling-Halle on Thursday.
Poland edged Belgium 3-0 (25-20, 30-28, 25-19) in the lone match in Pool A. Bartosz Kurek top scored with 20 points, while Michal Kubiak and Karol Klos recorded 15 and 13 points, respectively, to secure a semifinal berth for Poland. Sam Deroo was the only Belgian player that scored in double-digits with 11 points.
Poland and Belgium had a close start in the first set with the deadlock at 9-all. Poland then found the right tempo to start a run that led to a 25-20 finish. Kubiak and Kurek teamed-up for Poland’s flying start in the second set but Belgium fought off the tandem that extended the set, but the world champions still had a clutch end game in the second set 30-28. Belgium tried to make a run in the third set but Poland regrouped to mend situation until they paved the way for an easy run in the third period 25-19.
Meanwhile, Russia recovered from their defeat against France when they scored a straight-set (25-20, 25-22, 25-17) win over Bulgaria in Pool B. Russia’s Alexander Volkov top scored with 13 points, while Nikolay Nikolov finished with 11 points for the losing side. London 2012 gold medallists Maxim Mikhaylov, Sergey Tetyukhin and Sergey Grankin helped out to secure the victory.
Russia were methodical in their plays, which helped them get through in the first set with a 25-20 win. Russia kept the pace in the second set the Bulgarians found strength to close in and eventually level the score at 16-all. Russia regained their composure and took the second set 25-22. Russia tried to impose their dominance as they led 16-9 at the break that forced Bulgaria coach to change his starters. Russia did not allow any further run and closed the set and match 25-17.
In the other Pool B match-up, France outplayed Finland 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16). France’s Antonin Rouzier had a prolific performance by scoring 18 of his 19 points from the attack line, to outdo Finland’s top gunner Olli-Pekka Ojansivu, who finished with 18 points.
Finland drew support from their fans and started the first set with a lead. France soon found their rhythm and bombarded Finland with feisty attacks from Earvin Ngapeth. Finland managed to close the gap but France pushed hard to end the set 25-21. Finland led in the second set but France drew strength from their persistent plays and succeeded with a 25-20 set win. France became more consistent in the third frame, which restrained Finland to make any further run.