Slovenia remains unbeaten as Israel progresses to second round
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men
Ljubljana, Slovenia, May 26, 2013. On Sunday Slovenia scored its third victory in the third match of the European qualification tournament for the 2014 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship by edging Moldova 3:0 (25-18, 25-22, and 25-15). Hungary on the other hand scored its first victory at the tournament edging Israel 3:2 (25-17, 26-28, 23-25, 25-19, and 15-12). With Slovenia finishing first and advancing directly to the third qualification round scheduled for January, in spite of today’s defeat Israel got second place and so the right to continue their World Championship adventure via the second round taking place this coming October 2-6, 2013.
The Slovenian team saved its best performance for the last match of the tournament. Head coach Luka Slabe changed the first line-up a little by including Gregor Ropret and Alen Šket into the starting six. Although Moldova started the match well and went 2:0 ahead, the Slovenians soon equalized and established a comfortable lead, 11:5 and 16:10. Opposite hitter Alen Šket scored 12 points in the first set alone. Slovenia was better in all elements of the game in this period and won the set 25-18. However, the Moldovans started the second set better as well and went up 8:3 at the first technical time-out and 16:9 at the second one. Due to reception problems, Slovenia’s head coach Luka Slabe sent in Andrej Flajs to replace Klemen Čebulj, which paid off. Šket was again the instigator of the turn-around and Slovenia scored 8 consecutive points to close in. The teams were equalized in the final stages of the set, but Slovenia managed to grab the set 25-22. The third set was tight until the first technical time-out, but then the Slovenians stepped up their game and led 17:9. The Moldovans managed to grab only a couple of more points until the end and the home team won 25-15.
Slovenia’s head coach Luka Slabe was satisfied with how his team served, but still sees a lot of room for improvement. “We still have some work to do in defence and reception.” Tine Urnaut and Andrej Flajs were satisfied that the team achieved its goal and lost only one set in three matches. Marin Lescov from Moldova said: “Slovenia’s national team is really strong and since we played without pressure, we hoped we could at least win one set. We had a good chance in the second set, but Slovenia managed a comeback.”
Israel and Hungary provided the audience with a real thriller in the last match of the tournament. In the end, Hungary won its first match 3:2 (25-17, 26-28, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12), but had to dig deep. Hungary dominated the first set from the get go and it was 8:4 and 16:9 at the technical time-outs. The beginning of the second set was tied, as it was 7:8 at the first technical time-out and 14:16 at the second one for Israel. In the end, Israel won the set 26-28, above all due to many service errors made by Hungary. In the third set, the two teams were even and Hungary was up by one point by the first technical time-out, but then fell as Israel was 11:16 ahead. This was enough for Israel to grab the set 23-25. Hungary started the fourth set with determination and was up 8:3 and 16:8 at the technical time-outs. It was 25-19 in the end, which meant the match went into the decisive, fifth set. It was a close match again, but in the end the Hungarians prevailed 15-12. Tamas Kaszap explained: “It was really difficult for us, because we needed a 3:0 win to proceed to the second round. We lost our energy after losing the second set, but we managed to come back. It was really important for us to win the match, since the Hungarian national team didn’t win any matches for the last two years.” Tamir Hershko, top scorer for Israel, was disappointed with the loss. “We made too many mistakes, but we are satisfied that we qualified for the second round.”
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