Sweden survives five setter with Norway to play Greece for top rank in Pool E
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men
Halmstad, Sweden, May 25, 2013. On Saturday Sweden needed five sets (25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 28-30, and 15-9) to edge their neighbors of Norway but with this result on Sunday the home heroes around superstar Marcus Nilsson will be playing for first place in Pool E and a ticket to make it directly to the third qualification round for the 2014 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship. Their rival there will be Greece that on Saturday easily disposed of Iceland in straight sets (25-8, 25-13, and 25-12) to score their second victory in the tournament. The loser of the clash opposing Sweden to Greece will continue its campaign via the second stage of the qualification process scheduled for October 2-6, 2013.
The first match of the day in Halmstad saw Greece easily down Iceland in three straight sets (25-8, 25-13, and 25-12) after only 53 minutes of action. Greece did literally shake Iceland’s defense with their powerful serves and attacks and could even rest some of their stars for the much anticipated and deciding game with hosts Sweden on Sunday. Still, even with their second lines, Greece could dominate the scene from the start up to the very end of the match. “I think Greece did intimidate us in the early stages and we could no longer play our own game and show what we are capable of” Vignir Hlödversson said on a special day for him as on Saturday he turned 46 and registered 100 caps with Iceland’s national team. “This was not the first time I played on my birthday because some other qualification rounds were held around this time of the year before” he continued, “but to make it to 100 caps for my country is a lot of fun”.
In the second match of the day the audience in Halmstad got the chance to enjoy world-class Volleyball and a dramatic game where the hosts of Sweden eventually edged their neighbors from Norway at the tie-break (25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 28-30, and 15-9). With their real superstar Marcus Nilsson on fire, the Swedes comfortably claimed the opening set but Norway stepped up in the second anchored by Lars Frederik Tvinde and by Mathias Loftesnes (23-25). Sweden found back their best play only in the late stages of the third set (25-21) well helped by Erik Knutsson – MVP in the end – and his blocks. A breathtaking fourth set eventually went to Norway (28-30) after Sweden had received a yellow card for an incorrect substitution and an attack by the home guys was controversially called out by the first referee. Norway, on the other hand, displayed some great combinations well prepared by their outstanding setter Kare Helvik Morken. Sweden returned back to the court extremely determined and Nilsson contributed two aces to seal the game at 15-9.
“The referees interfered with the game a little bit excessively but I am happy that we turned out the way it did, winning the fifth set in front of this amazing audience. That was just fantastic” Knutsson said. “We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game with Greece, we feel like we are in good shape and we want to play with glowing hearts with Greece as we have got nothing to lose”.
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