Eight in a row for Spain; Greece overcomes Denmark after five sets
2012 CEV Volleyball European League - Men
Gentofte, Denmark, June 16, 2012. Spain continued its winning streak in the 2012 CEV Volleyball European League – Men and already made it eight victories in a row after defeating Israel by 3:1 (25-16, 24-26, 26-24, 25-23). Greece won the second match of the day by downing hosts Denmark 3:2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-13).
Spain was in front 8-6 by the first technical time-out. After a great duel where both teams where on the ground several times Iban Perez finished it for 10-7 to Spain. From here on Spain just increased its lead to 16-10 by the second technical time-out. Spain never looked back in the first set winning it by 25-16.
Israel came out to the second set much sharper in mind and action and led 8-4 by the first technical time-out. Spain found back their game and leveled the match at 10-10. The Israelis had to capitulate after four straight Spanish points giving Spain the lead at 15-12. A Spanish five-point lead decreased from 19-14 to 19-16 and Spanish head coach Fernando Muñoz Benitez took a time-out. It did not help as intended - the Israeli team fought hard and leveled the match 22-22. Francisco José Rodriguez made a great block which gave Spain a 23-22 lead, but Israel won the set 26-24.
The third set began close with a Spanish 8-6 lead at the first technical time-out. Israel leveled the score 13-13 and the set was still all open by the second technical time-out with Spain leading by two points (16-14). The teams took turns to make points all the way to 20-18 to Spain. Then Spain increased their lead to three points - 21-18. Israel was behind 23-20 but still had faith having won the second set after being behind most of the time. Israel survived three Spanish set-points and leveled the set at 24-24 before Spain closed at 26-24.
With the second and the third sets close all the way to the end both Spain and Israel made every point count in the fourth set. Like the previous set Spain led 8-6 at the first technical time-out. Again the teams took turns to make points till 13-11 then Spain increased a little to 16-13 by the second technical time-out. Spain increased their lead to 22-18 and the Israeli team took a needed time-out. Israel got close 23-24, but Spain won the set 25-23.
Spanish opposite Iban Perez made 20 points today and has now made no less than 143 points in this year’s European League.
“It was a hard game today. When we played Israel two weeks ago, we won the sets with much bigger margin. Each set was close today. It was a tough game but we are mentally strong and that is why we won. You can not relax against a team like Israel, then they punish you. But a strong mentality and a good fight from the entire team gave us the win today. We finished second in the European League for the last three years and now we want to win,” Iban Perez said.
In the second match in the pool today hosts Denmark faced Greece. Denmark had won the two previous encounters against Greece in this year’s European League, but not today.
Both teams had trouble serving in the first set. Greece sent three serves in the net and one too long just before the first technical time-out but was still in front 8-7. Denmark was in front 13-12 but then Greece took four points in a row and the lead 16-13. From here the Greeks did not look back and the first set ended with a Danish serve in the net and 25-19 to Greece.
Greece and Denmark were both serving better in the second set and Greece took the lead 5-3. Casper Munk reduced the Greek lead to 1 point in a duel where Axel Jacobsen crossed the ball with his head. Greece had the lead 8-6 at the first technical time-out. Greece had a four-point lead at 10-6 before the Danish team pulled themselves together and leveled the set at 11-11. Still even at 14-14 Denmark took the lead 16-14 at the second technical time-out. From here Denmark took a three-point lead until 24-21. The Greek team survived the first two Danish set-points, but Denmark won the set by 25-23.
Greece had the third set under control from the beginning to the end. The Greeks were in front by two points 8-6 at the first technical time-out and increased their lead to four points 10-6 before the Danish head coach Fred Sturm took a time-out. Greece showed good mental strength and kept the lead through the entire set winning it by 25-20.
Danish Casper Munk tried to get even more support from the spectators by gesticulating at them in the beginning of the fourth set, but the Danish team was still behind 8-7 at the first technical time-out. But then the Danish team took the lead and was in front 16-13 by the second technical time-out. Greece fought well and pulled level at 20-20. It was close all the way to 24-23 before Rune Rye Huss closed the set at 25-23.
The fifth set was the set where Denmark kept leveling the score. All the way to 13-13 the Danish team stayed close behind Greece. The Greek team showed good mental strength at the end and won the set by 15-13 and the match by 3:2.
23-year-old Mitar Tzourits played an amazing game and was the man behind the Greek victory with no less than 39 points.
“It was a very tough game today and all the players were tired. I am glad I could help the team to win. It was a pleasure playing here in Gentofte in a great arena with fantastic spectators. I am happy with the win which I hope the team can use as preparation for the qualification to the 2013 European Volleyball Championship,” Mitar Tzourits said. Danish captain Kristian Knudsen added: ”I think we played an OK game, but Greece has Mitar Tzourits and he made the difference today. We had a great problem stopping him. Our game is not consistent and we lack routine. It hurts to lose when the game is so close”.
“We have played with a new team in each round of the European League. When we lost to Israel yesterday it was the first game together for this team. Today we can see that we have already played one game together. We have a lot of young guys and new players who can still improve. Mitar Tzourits is very talented and I am glad he is here with the team. We hope to be back in Denmark for the 2013 European Volleyball Championship,” Greek head coach Alexandros Leonis stated.
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