Leon, Mexico, June 18, 2017 - With five stuff blocks and a total of 14 points, Ardo Kreek
was the brightest of a group of stars that showed Estonia the way to the first place of 2017 FIVB World League Group 3 after a convincing 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-21) win over Spain at the final match in Domo de la Feria.
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Behind Kreek, opposite Oliver Venno
fired three aces and completed a full score of 12 tallies, while wing spiker Robert Täht
chipped in with 11 points. Setter Kert Toobal
was also vital giving rhythm to all the attackers. As for Spain, Andres Villena
completed 13 spikes, leading the charts of a team that just couldn’t handle the high offensive force of their rival.
Estonia finished atop of Group 3 at their first ever World League participation, while Spain ended a drought of two years being on the verge of the Final Round, but they fell short of the first place.
For their first ever encounter, Spain had a slight edge over Estonia, having finished one place ahead of their forthcoming opponents in the Group 3 rankings. And, with players such as Villena (111 points), the Roja provided enough firepower, on paper, to counter Estonia's deadly duo: Kreek (0.73 avg per set) and Andri Aganits
(0.62), the first and third best blockers in the tournament.
But Spain's wall took the light with an incredible triple block to send Fernando Munoz's men on top (14-16) after a tightly contested beginning of the first set. Täht led the charge for Estonia and the Eastern Europeans clawed back into the game (23-20) as Spain couldn't find a way to stop the Lubin hitman before Venno served for an ace to claim the first set 25-22.
In the beginning of the second set, Estonia eased into a three-point lead (9-6). A technical time out called by Spain didn't change much as Kreek managed a monster block to give Gheorghe Cretu's men a confortable advance (16-9). The Estonians remained in control throughout the rest of the set as Aganits showed his blocking skills and Kreek was once again the man of the hour as he spiked to close the deal (25-16).
With the wind in their sails, the Estonians raced to an early 5-1 lead while Spain were left looking for an answer. And the Eastern Europeans, who bagged four of their previous seven World League games in straight 3-0 wins, continued their demonstration, playing some wonderful volleyball along the way, showing plenty of agility and guile in attack to take the lead to 11-3. That eight-point deficit proved far too much for Spain, who despite an impressive rally (16-13), couldn't claw back into the game as Estonia remained in the driver's seat as Spain served into the net to put this game to an end (25-21).