Urnaut leads Slovenia in victory against Finland in 2017 World League opener


Tine Urnaut of Slovenia spikes

Seoul, Korea, June 2, 2017 - Tine Urnaut's 18 points led Slovenia to a four-set 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23) victory against Finland in the opening match of the 2017 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World League.

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Urnaut (18 points) and Klemen Cebulj (14 points) were the top scorers for Slovenia, while Antti Ropponen (13 points) and Elviss Krastins (8 points) led Finland's scoring efforts.

It was the very first clash between Finland and Slovenia in the history of the World League after Slovenia gained promotion to Group 2 last year. Finland are making their 13th World League appearance, while Slovenia are participating in the competition for the second time. Slovenia won seven of their eight matches in the 2016 edition of the World League.

The first set was a close game. Urnaut scored nine points to contribute to Slovenia's win. Finland's attacks were consistently blocked by the Slovenian middle blockers. Finland showed good concentration and followed their opponents within one or two points. However, they lost focus later on, and Slovenia took a 22-19 lead, holding on to it through the end of the first set - 25-22.

Slovenia won the second set easily. The score was close only at the beginning. Finland lost their concentration as they fell 8-12 behind. Finland made many mistakes and the gap increased to 18-10. Klemen Cebulj aced for 20-11. Tine Urnaut's smart faint motion led Slovenia to set point before the eventual 25-15.

Finland showed good teamwork and concentration and managed to win the third set. Finland quickly came back from an early 1-4 lag, tying it at 5-5. Ropponen's attacks enabled them to take the lead for the first time. However, Slovenia quickly caught up at 11-11. The set went on close and in the end Finland succeeded in two consecutive digs to win the set by 25-22.

Finland kept the momentum and opened the fourth set with a 6-2 lead. However, Finland lost some of their concentration, Ropponen made a serving mistake and the gap narrowed down to 12-11. The young players of Finland could not maintain their lead and the game was reversed as Mitja Gasparini's attack succeeded and Slovenia managed to get in the lead for the first time in the set – 14-13. Neither team was able to dominate through the end and eventually it was Slovenia that managed to close it off at 25-23.


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