Spain flies to Mexico via Villena


Andres Villena spikes against Austria's double block

Linz, Austria, June 11, 2017 – Andres Villena was the driving force behind Spain’s 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 29-27) shutout of hosts Austria in an FIVB Volleyball World League decider in Linz, sealing the deal on the Spaniards’ trip to Mexico for the Group 3 Final Four tournament in Mexico next week. Austria also had a shot at the ticket to Leon, but will not be flying across the Atlantic during their rookie participation in the competition.

Villena was responsible for 20 of Spain’s victorious points. Sergio Noda Blanco contributed another 15. Austria’s best scorer Alexander Berger tallied 16 points.

Spain and World League rookies Austria had never before met in a major international competition, so now the head-to-head account is open with a one-victory advantage for the Spaniards.

Lorenz Koraimann set the first highlight of the match by closing an amazing rally to a 4-3 advantage for Austria. The host team even went one better and extended the lead to 6-3 with Nicolai Grabmueller serving. After another point by Koraimann, Austria pulled clear to 8-6 at the time-out. After an attacking error by Paul Buchegger, Spain took the lead at 10-9 and raised the game to top level. The avid crowd got offered sensational offensive action by Alex Berger and Borja Ruiz, as well as some spectacular defence. After 20-20, the Spaniards wangled a three-point lead. Moments later, Andres Villena secured the first set point and Spain converted it to a 25-21 win.

In set 2, Austria started unimpressed and put up some resistance. Berger scored some spectacular points and Maximilian Thaller surprised the Spanish receivers by serving floaters. But the visiting squad scored consistently as well. Ruiz, Juan Miguel Gonzalez Limon and, again and again, Villena smashed the balls in Austria’s half of the court. At 14-14, Berger gave his team the edge, but the lead was only short-lived. With Villena on fire, the Spaniards started a 9-1 run. A serving error by Berger brought the decision. Spain won set 2 by 25-19.

The Austrian team rose up against a loss and after three points in a row took a 8-7 lead. Moments later Bucheger scored for 10-9. Spain came back once again, but the 18-year-old Mathaeus Jurkovics scored a kill block for 14-14. With Noda Blanco contributing to a 21-18 Spanish lead, the Austrians stood with their backs against the wall. But they did not give up and came back to even the score at 23-23. An opponent’s error in offence brought the first set point for Austria and a perfect attack by Berger brought the second one. But it was the Spaniards that eventually made the last and decisive point for a 29-27 win.


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