Belarus takes third win to complete surprise of the weekend
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men
Vila do Conde, Portugal, September 10, 2012. The real surprise of the European qualifier – Pool A held this past weekend in Vila do Conde, i.e. Belarus, completed a clean sweep of their matches there by edging also Great Britain on Sunday (25-15, 23-25, 25-23, and 25-19) to travel to the second round robin coming up in Ankara as the current leader of the group. In the other match of the final day Portugal needed five sets to cruise past Turkey (25-23, 20-25, 27-25, 22-25, and 15-13) and be ranked second at the end of the first round.
Belarus set the pace of the game in the first set of their clash with Team GB (8:6, 11:8, 14:8) and two consecutive blocks by Siarhei Antanovich stretched the lead (19:13) paving the way for a speedy 25-15. Belarus was in full control also in set 2 (8:7, 14:11) as GB could score almost only via Nathan French before they found their best play to flip the charts around (18:15, 20:16) and even though Belarus leveled at 22, Great Britain could go for the 1:1. Belarus started out quite strong in set 3 (7:2, 13:7) and even though GB responded with Bakare and Pipes aced for the provisional 19:18 in favor of his side, this time Belarus could finalize their quest at 25-23. GB went up 8:5 in set 4 but Belarus responded promptly (14:12) and could maintain their lead up to the end (25-19). Dami Bakare top scored for Team GB with 21 points while Siarhei Busel paced Belarus with 16.
“I am evidently happy with our three wins and nine points. As we came here our goal was to win one or two matches, and never thought we could score three wins. We have to go to Turkey now and try to do the same there” said Belarus coach Viktor Sidelnikov.
“I am very happy with the performance of my team here; we played three great teams and were able to do so at their level, something that was just unthinkable some years ago. Today we were a little exhausted but I am still happy with our performance” stressed GB coach Joel Banks.
In the other match of the day Portugal eventually scored their second win after five long and tough sets with Turkey. Home captain Joao Jose was honored with a special award to celebrate his long career with the national team.
Portugal started out the right way (8:4) but Turkey closed up via their best player Emre Batur (12:13); a yellow card to Turkey’s libero Ramazan Kilic moved Portugal up 20:18 and Alex Ferreira sealed the final 25-23. Turkey responded well in set 2 going up 16:14 and after a very close final rush, some blocks contributed the provisional 1:1. A very tight third set with many ups and downs saw Joao Jose score two points that moved Portugal to the front before a double block claimed the final 27-25. Turkey dictated the tempo of the game all the way through in set 4 (8:6, 15:8) and even though Portugal closed to -2, it was Halil Yücel that called for the tie-break (25-22). Turkey went up there 7:5 and 9:6 before Portugal responded with Valdir Sequeira, Jose moved his side to the front (13:12), and a double block by Jose and Andre Lopes on Batur did finish the job (15-13). Batur top scored in the match with 29 points while Ferreira paced the local heroes with 22.
“I do not want to comment on the match; of course I would have preferred to win 3:0 or 3:1 but it just did not happen. Anyway, in the World League we lost twice at the tie-break to the Dutch and now we got these two wins. I hope that in Turkey something changes and we can take three points from every game” said home mentor Flavio Gulinelli.
“It was a good and very close match and unfortunately we lost. In Turkey we will try to take three points from every game to finish second in the Pool as the first place seems to be booked by Belarus” said Turkey’s head coach Veljko Basic.
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