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14/09/2011 23:02
Finland qualifies for ¼ finals after thriller against Slovenia
2011 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men

Vienna, Austria, September 14, 2011. Finland beat Slovenia 3:2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-12) in 128 minutes in Wednesday’s last quarter final. Both teams underwent a lot of ups and downs but offered a spectacular game to the fans.

The most obvious statistical difference between Finland and Slovenia in the first set was the number of mistakes. Both teams scored 15 points, but Slovenia committed 7 more errors (10) than Finland. In terms of playing, Finland’s defense showed an amazing performance and was able to drive Slovenia’s attackers to desperation. This development led to Finland’s win in the first set (25-18).  

Starting from the second set, Slovenia adapted to Finland’s level in defense. Therefore the “Suomi” side-out lost stability and Slovenia clearly pulled away (16:10). After Andrej Flajs had to shortly leave the court duo to an injury (Flajs was able to return), Slovenia fell into a small leak of concentration (18:17), but got out in the right moment (22:20) to take the set (25-21).

The third set brought a lot of ups and downs for both teams. Finland set the pace till the middle of the set (14:12), when Slovenia inverted the result with a 5:0 mini-break (17:14).

The Finnish players weren’t daunted by this back fall and fought back immediately (20:18). Slovenia didn’t use their opportunities to balance the score again and were confronted with three set balls for Finland (21:24). Slovenia scored twice, but still lost the set (23-25).

Like many of the plays the game stayed thrilling because Slovenia didn’t think about giving up. Quite the contrary was the case. Slovenia took the lead (16:11) and kept it to the end for an easy win (25-18).

In the tie-break Finland recorded a perfect start (3:0) and seemed to be mentally better prepared than Slovenia. Slovenia tried to come back, but Finland played off all their experience and converted their match ball (15-12).

Mikko Oivanen was top scorer for Finland (22). Alen Sket was Slovenia’s leading scorer.

Finnish coach Daniel Castellani knew the key to success for his team. “We really played one ball after the other and didn’t lose confidence in the critical situations. Our experience was the crucial factor in the tie-break”.  

Tuomas Sammelvuo was pleased with his team’s performance. “In this phase of a tournament, just wins matter. We won so that’s a very good result for us, but there are still things to improve”.  


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