Berger navigates Austria to victorious ending of five-set saga


Alexander Berger tries to spike over the Mexican double block

Linz, Austria, June 10, 2017 – Alexander Berger was the main engine that navigated Austria through five sets of tough battle against Mexico towards the victorious 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12) ending in an FIVB Volleyball World League game that took place on Saturday evening in Linz.

Berger hammered out as many as 23 points to become the best scorer of the match. The top of the chart on the Mexican side, was split between Jorge Barajas and Nestor Orellana, each contributing 18 points to this match becoming an epic drama.

These two nations had never met in a major competition, so now the head-to-head account has been opened at one victory to zero in favour of Austria.

Powered by Friday’s victory over Germany, Austria continued the momentum of this success against Mexico on Saturday. Assisted with a good set by Maximilian Thaller, Nicolai Grabmueller opened the first two-point lead at 8-6. Austria extended it to 13-7. However, the Mexicans appeared unimpressed by this huge offensive power from Alex Berger or Paul Buchegger. They levelled up their reception, performed very well at serving and consequently also benefited from Austria’s errors in offence. Mexico equalized at 15-15. Later on, they took a 22-18 lead and, soon after, closed set 1 at 25-21.

Austria got over losing set 1 and piled the pressure. A block by Grabmueller and a gorgeous backfield attack by Berger inspired confidence. But Mexico had confidence, too. So, it was a hard-fought match with a minimal Austrian lead at the first technical time-out. Austria extended it to 16-11. Unlike in the first set, Austria did not back down an inch. Even two good offensive actions by Mexico and narrowing the deficit to two points could not knock the Austrian team out of its stride. Lorenz Koraimann and Berger maintained their cool against the Mexican double block and Buchegger kept on scoring. At the end, a spiking error by Samuel Cordova closed set 2 at 25-20 Austria’s way.

In the early stage of set 3, it was a set on equal footage. Both teams varied between awesome attacks by Jorge Barajas or Berger and unneeded errors. Midway through the set, Mexico firmed their performance up and went ahead from 12-12 to 19-13. Without any doubt, Mexico had the momentum now. At last, Orellana secured the deserved win at 25-18.

Even if Austria did not have the amount of self-confidence as in the Friday’s match against Germany, they did not lack fighting spirit. With their relentless strength of will they came back into the match. Walking on the edge of a knife, Anton Menner scored for 22-21. Moments later, Jose Martinez made a serving error – 24-22 and a double set point for Austria. Thomas Zass took high risks from the serving line, converted it to a 25-22 win with an ace and forced the tie-breaker.

The hosts got off to a good start and nosed in front – 3-1. But Mexico responded with four points in a row. Spectacular points by Menner and Peter Wohlfahrtstaetter, and a block by Berger as well, brought a change in the leadership again. At 10-9 to Austria, Berger blocked effectively again. Shortly afterwards, Austria had tripe set point, and after a serving error, Menner took his chance and scored for 15-12 and a 3-2 victory.


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