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24/05/2013 23:00
Estonia and Latvia seize the day to start their World Championship adventure
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men

Rakvere, Estonia, May 24, 2013. The local heroes of Estonia and their neighbors from Latvia scored a couple of wins on the first day of the first-round qualifier for the 2014 FIVB Men’s World Championship taking place this weekend in Rakvere. Estonia edged Belarus 3:1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-17, and 25-21) while Latvia cruised past Denmark in three straight sets (25-20, 26-24, and 25-23).  
Estonia and Belarus engaged in a neck-to-neck race right from the start of their clash with the guests displaying great skills in defense as well as in blocking. Belarus got up by two points at the end of the first set (23:21) but Estonia fought back and scored four consecutive points to cash it at 25-23. Estonia played superbly in the early stages of the second set (17:13) but after that Belarus narrowed the gap and drew level at 18. Belarus stretched that momentum which helped them go for the provisional 1:1 in sets (25-20). The plot of the game did change in the third set where Estonia claimed a 19:12 lead, thereby paving the way for the final 25-17 and 2:1. Belarus went up 7:3 in the fourth set but they did see their opponent storm back and level the score at 16 all. Some Belarusian mistakes could help Estonia set the tempo of the game after the second technical time-out (20:18) and after a few long and dramatic rallies, Estonia moved ahead by three points (22:19). Estonia profited of the situation to claim a 4-point lead (23:19) and finished it off at 25-21.
Four Estonian players ended the game in double digits as Martti Juhkami shined with 20 points for the winners, Oliver Venno, Ardo Kreek and Jaanus Nõmmsalu added 15, 13 and 11 respectively to the count of the home side. Siarhei Antanovich scored 19 points for Belarus.
“The players from Belarus are taller than us but our technical skills were better. It was mostly our determination that helped us win this match. We can’t underestimate our next opponent Denmark because they put up a great fight against Latvia” Estonia’s top scorer Martti Juhkami said.  
“Belarus is a very strong team, which has been showing better and better results in the past few years. They are a pretty young team, so Belarus could be a real threat for everyone in the near future” Estonia’s head coach Avo Keel commented.  

The first match of the day was narrow but Latvia managed to edge Denmark in straight sets (25-20, 26-24, and 25-23). On Saturday Estonia will be playing against Denmark while Latvia will try to keep on winning against Belarus.  

Click here for more information including detailed stats of the matches

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