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23/07/2017 23:20
Belgium book ticket to #FIVBMensWCH after fifth straight victory on home soil
2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Men

Kortrijk, Belgium, July 23, 2017. Belgium’s Red Dragons completed on Sunday a clean run on home soil and by claiming their fifth win in as many matches, they secured their qualification to next year’s World Championship. Belgium’s celebrations started already after the third set since a 2-1 lead in their matchup with Estonia meant the Red Dragons had already booked their ticket to Italy and Bulgaria. The hosts nevertheless remained focussed and eventually pulled out a 3-1 victory (22-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-15) to complete their triumphal march with an unblemished record. Belgium join hosts Italy and Bulgaria, 2014 gold medallists Poland and the winners of the second-round qualifiers held in May – France, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Russia, Serbia, Finland – to complete the European contingent for next year’s World Championship.

Waiting for the ‘big match’ and grand finale of the tournament starring hosts Belgium and Estonia, Germany and Slovakia finished their campaign at the men’s World Championship qualifier in Kortrijk on a high note as they beat Belarus and Spain, respectively to settle for third and fourth place in the final standing.

Estonia vs. Belgium

The party in Kortrijk started already after the third set – with the players dancing around, hugging each other, and the fans and the coaching staff looking euphoric as well. Belgium needed to take two sets from their matchup with Estonia to qualify to the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship and they did even more than that – sealing their fifth victory in as many matches after coming from behind. Belgium lost the first set after a nervous start to the game, but Gert van Walle was certainly one of the players who changed the course of the match.

“I always play very well with the national team and I did so today too,” he said afterwards. “At the beginning, we were too nervous. I think we just wanted to do it too good and too quick. However, everything changed after the first set as we could put more pressure on Estonia with our serve and they made many more mistakes than in the first set. Of course I am very pleased with this result and the coach applauded me in front of the whole crowd – that is obviously very nice too.”

Only middle blocker Simon Van de Voorde and outside hitter Tomas Rousseaux could perform to the best of their abilities in the first set. “After a nervous start to the game we were able to find more confidence,” Rousseaux explained. “We finally reached our normal level and we finish this tournament with four 3-0 wins and today’s 3-1 victory. I do not think we could have done any better. We are now waiting to see what we can achieve with this team at the European Championship. I think we have the potential to do something good there.”

“It is important for us to play in a big tournament such as the World Championship. We can now work on the future of our team,” said Belgium coach Vital Heynen.

“Belgium was the better team tonight. We made too many errors and that is crucial and costly in this kind of matches,” commented Estonia coach Gheorghe Cretu.

Spain vs. Slovakia

Slovakia and Spain opened the programme of the last competition day in Kortrijk with Slovakia coming from behind (17-21) in the fourth set to seal a 3-1 victory (25-19, 20-25, 31-29, 26-24). “We are pleased and not only with this result but also with the fact that we won two games at this tournament. It was a good experience for our young players who are preparing for the European Championship scheduled for later this summer,” said Slovakia coach Andrej Kravarik. “Estonia and Belgium were too strong for us but we played at a high level in the match with Germany. It will be difficult to choose the 14 players for the EuroVolley from the 17 currently available.”

“We played at a high level against some of the strongest teams here but my players have to show they can do the same also when playing against some other ‘weaker’ opponents. All players here had the opportunity to show their skills and abilities,” said Spain coach Fernando Munoz Benitez, who next season will be at the helm of Greece’s Olympiacos PIRAEUS as well.

Germany vs. Belarus

Belarus wasted five set balls in the first set and Germany showed no mercy as the bronze medal winners from the 2014 World Championship eventually rallied to a 3-0 victory (29-27, 25-20, 25-22). “Of course I am not happy with the outcome of this tournament but Belgium was simply too strong for us at this very moment,” commented Germany coach Andrea Giani. “Today I decided to give some younger players the opportunity to experience what it feels to play at this level. We improved throughout this tournament and especially our serve got better and better, but there is still some work to do. I hope that György Grozer will come back and join the group for the European Championship.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

News nr. 1 of 25
22/07/2017 23:21:00
Belgium and Estonia to fight for ticket to next year’s Worlds

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