Spain manages a perfect start in Sofia with straight sets against Slovenia
2012 Olympic Games - European Qualification
Sofia, Bulgaria, May 9, 2012. The national team of Spain hammered out a perfect start of its campaign at the 2012 Olympic Games - European Qualification for men in Sofia. The team of Fernando Munoz Benitez rushed into the battles of Pool I play at Arena Armeec hall with straight sets against Slovenia – 3:0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-18).
Live photo gallery of all matches is running in real time here
In the first set Spain’s block proved very difficult for the Slovenian offense to overcome. At the same time Iban Perez, Manuel Sevillano and their teammates were unstoppable in attack and they quickly cruised to a final score of 25-17.
Slovenia had nothing more to lose. At the beginning of the second set the team mentored by Veselin Vukovic stepped up its serving and its blocking and took charge of the court. It made a great start for 6-1, but after 9-5 allowed Spain to win the next five rallies for 9-10 – a blow Slovenia never recovered from. Iban Perez continued to spike point after point. At 24-20 Spain was only a reach away from winning the set, when Slovenia fought back to narrow the gap to 24-23 when a serving error put an end to this part.
In the third set Spain was once again the complete ruler of the court. With great performance in blocking and with help of the many unforced errors Slovenia made, Fernando Munoz Benitez’s players managed another impressive result of 25-18 to finish the match in straight sets.
16 points from Iban Perez made him the best scorer of the match, with teammate Jorge Fernandez Valcarcel adding another 13 for Spain. Mitja Gasparini was Slovenia’s most prolific player with 12 points.
“Our team had too many problems today. Our offense was insecure and we could not score enough on a good reception. We lost too many points in a row and let our opponent dictate the pace of the game,” Tine Urnaut, captain of Slovenia, stated. “It was a very good game for us, but I am sure that we can play much better,” Spanish captain Guillermo Hernan Ruperez commented on the match. ”Now it is time to start thinking about tomorrow. We will try to do our best against Serbia and qualify for the final round.”
“Our team played its worst game in the last two and a half seasons,” a disappointed Veselin Vukovic, head coach of Slovenia, said. ”Spain deserved the win, but we helped them a lot with our low spirit, lack of concentration and poor performance in all elements.” His Spanish counterpart Fernando Munoz Benitez was in the opposite mood: “It was important for us to start the tournament with a win, so I am very happy with the result. Our young team was paying attention to the game and made good technical decisions. I hope we can improve our performance in the side-out phase and be better against Serbia tomorrow.”