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07/09/2012 18:00
Belgium opens with convincing win over Israel, Netherlands need tie-break with Estonia
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Kortrijk, Belgium, September 7, 2012. With the upcoming matches against the Netherlands and Estonia already in their minds, the home guys of Belgium started their European campaign in Kortrijk by routing their opponents from Israel in three straight sets (25-20, 25-22, and 25-21).
The match was actually quite close especially since Israel displayed some good defense; the home side started well with the blocks killed by Pieter Verhees and Bram Van den Dries, going up 12:5 helped also by the attacks of Kevin Klinkenberg. However, Shon Faiga and Alexander Shafranovich responded well for Israel closing the gap to 13:11 before experienced setter Frank Depestele well-mastered his middle blockers and an exceptional performance by Verhees did pave the way for the provisional 1:0 (25-20).
The score remained very close in set 2 with Belgium even trailing briefly 11:12 before Verhees and Simon Van de Voorde joined their forces to contribute the 2:0 (25-22).
Israel confirmed their role as potential outsider in the Pool going up 16:15 in set 3 before Gert Van Walle and Matthijs Verhanneman took their side by the hand to finalize the 3:0 win for the home guys. “Mission accomplished; nothing more, nothing less” was the only comment given by local head coach Dominique Baeyens.

In the other match of the day the Netherlands needed five sets to finally edge Estonia (25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 21-25, and 15-13) after dissipating a 2:0 lead.
The start immediately set the tone for a classy match with long rallies and great defense on both sides of the net; Jelte Maan powered a Dutch lead at 18:13 with his service but Estonia fought back by using the same weapon, and namely with the help of Argo Meresaar and Martti Juhkami, before Jeroen Rauwerdink closed the opening set for the Oranjes with a block.
Rauwerdink stretched that good momentum to set 2 (5:1) and Estonia could not close that gap so that the set where the Dutch put a lot of pressure with their service ended in a 25-17.
However, the Netherlands started making mistakes in set 3 while Oliver Venno took Estonia by the hand to move up 17:12; even though Dutch head coach Edwin Benne tried out some changes it still was not enough to stop Venno and Estonia from winning that section of the game.
Estonia had an easy run in set 4 going up 10:5 and 18:7 as captain Kert Toobal was the absolute leader out there on the court. Jelte Maan and Tony Krolis were substituted by Benne who opted for Bas van Bemmelen, Thijs ter Horst and Robin Overbeeke to fight back up to 18:21 but still Estonia could call for the tie-break.
Tony Krolis opened the gap there with his serving turn (7:4) but Estonia came back to -1 (9:8) with Venno on fire. Supported by the great defense of their libero Rait Rikberg, Estonia even tied at 12 all but Maan, ter Horst and Krolis scored the next points to pocket the 3:2 win for the Dutch.

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