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20/09/2013 20:00
Slovenia causes second sensation of the day beating defending champions
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men

Herning, Denmark, September 20, 2013. The first match of the 2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship in Group C at Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning was a very close encounter in which Slovenia pulled off a big win and a very big surprise beating the defending European champions Serbia 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, and 25-19). Slovenian head coach Luka Slabe afterwards said: “This is the biggest win ever in Slovenia’s Volleyball history”. Later in the evening Finland edged the Netherlands 3:1 (23-25, 25-22, 27-25, and 25-20) with their performance being highlighted by a total of 23 blocks.
The first set started with a serving error from both teams and it seemed like they needed some time to adjust to the arena with many technical errors in a very even first set. No team could get a lead by more than a few points until Serbia pulled away at the end of the first set, 25-20.
Slovenia came out to the second set on fire, eager to come back in the game. They were up 3-0 and dominated the set. Serbia started clawing back and was at 4:5 in a set that saw many short plays and a lot of technical errors. Serbian hard hitter, opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic, both earned his team a lot of points with hard and precise serves and lost points with serves in the net or out of bounds. Slovenia got the edge and made less mistakes than Serbia to win the second set 25-23.
Was this the start of a sensation? Slovenia had the edge in the third set as well acing out the Serbs with several great aces and Serbia continued to make more mistakes than the opponents. Slovenia was on track for the third set which they won 25-22 after Serbia got level at 17-17.
The fourth set saw Serbia aggressive and determined leading 9-3 before Slovenia got the nerves under control and started to get back in the set with good attacking and defending at the net. Slovenia had the right confidence and believed they could win over the defending champions in the first match of EuroVolley 2013 in Herning. Serbia took the lead 14-11 but continued to make technical errors. Slovenia had their part of errors and most points in this match were determined after short rallies. Slovenia showed most initiative and completed the sensation as they beat 2011 European gold medallists Serbia.
“First of all I want to congratulate Slovenia on their win. I think that we chose the hard way to go through these Championships losing the first game. They played better than us but we can still go through from the group” said Serbia captain Dragan Stankovic.
“This is the biggest win ever in Slovenian Volleyball and we are very proud of this achievement. But this is only one game, so the guys need to think about the game with Finland. It is a shower, dinner and straight to bed as we still have a lot of work to do to make it through to the next stage” Slovenia mentor Luka Slabe said.  

In the second match of the day Finland pulled off an amazing defensive game and had a total of 23 winning blocks over the tall and high flying Dutch players, quite an amazing feat. The Finns eventually scored a 3-1 win (23-25, 25-22, 27-25, and 25-20) at the end of an exciting game.
With 400 Finnish spectators and also a large number of Dutch fans, the atmosphere for the second match of Group C at the arena Boxen was both intense and noisy – a great advert for the EuroVolley 2013!
And what a start to the match it was when the two teams started the game with a breath-taking rally that Finland won when the Netherlands spiked the ball out of bounds. This would eventually be the game of monster blocks and hard hitting spikes from both teams – and entertaining it was for the 1,200 spectators who got together in Boxen arena, Herning. In a close first set the Dutch team had the upper hand 25-23 but it could have gone either way. The entertainment continued in the second set with long and dramatic rallies. Finland showed expertise in the defensive game and shut down many of the Dutch offenses with well-timed blocks (25-22). You never knew what was going to happen, but the crowds loved the match and the players enjoyed the intense atmosphere too. The third set was a close one. Great rallies, monster blocks, floor shattering spikes and rolling-on-the-floor saves. Holland seemed to take it, but Finland came back, and the set was won by the “Suomis” (27-25). Finland’s team captain Antti Siltala was on fire today and was all over the court with his blocks, serves and saves. The fourth set would show the level of defensive quality as Finland cruised past with a series of 4-5 blocks to win the game.
Top scorer was Dutchman Niels Klapwijk with 23 points while Finland’s duo Urpo Sivula and Olli Kunnari registered 21 and 19 points respectively.
Dutch head coach Edwin Benne said: “We won the first set but then got into problems and were blocked too many times. We are not satisfied and must improve in the next game”.
Finland’s team captain Antti Siltala: “It was a really nice game for us and I don’t think I have played a match with 23 block points before so this was great statistics for us and defensively we played very well”.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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