Simon van de Voorde attacks through the Estonian block of Andrus Raadik and Ardo Kreek as Belgium celebrate their qualification to the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 24, 2017 - Belgium became the 10th and last European side to make the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, after defeating Estonia in four sets at home in Kortrijk on the closing day of the six-team single round-robin pool of European qualifiers Round 3.
Italy and Bulgaria as hosts and Poland as defending champions have qualified directly to the 2018 World Championship. They have been joined by France, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Russia, Serbia and Finland who advanced through Round 2 of the European qualifers last month, plus Japan and Australia who qualified last week through Pool B of the Asian qualifiers.
Belgium needed two sets to claim the last available ticket for Europe. Estonia needed a clear 3-0 or 3-1 win for full points - and the Baltic side got an early lead before 2000 fans in Kortrijk. But the hosts responded and took the next for a 2-1 lead that settled the matter of qualification there and then, before going on to win the match outright 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-15). The two coaches lined up their reserves for the fourth set.
Gert van Walle who came on off the bench in the first set was Belgium's best scorer on 13 points and Sam Deroo added another 11 as the hosts put immense pressure on Estonia from the service line, scoring 12 aces (to one) and outplaying their opponents in attacking.
Estonia, on the other hand, conceded 36 points from unforced errors - 24 of those from the service line - and Robert Taht's top scoring performance in the match with 20 points was small consolation.
Belgium will be making their second straight and ninth overall appearance in the World Championship. Their best ranking ever was eighth place in 1970. After an absence of 32 years from 1982, Belgium returned to the competition for the last edition in 2014, ranking 17th in Poland.
Slovakia edged Spain 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 31-29, 26-24) and Germany swept Belarus 3-0 (29-27, 25-20, 25-22) in the other matches of the day in Kortrijk.Final Ranking, European qualifiers Round 3:
1. Belgium 5 wins
2. Estonia 3 wins, 10 points
3. Germany 3 wins, 8 points
4. Slovakia 2 wins, 6 points
5. Spain 2 wins, 5 points
6. Belarus 0 wins
Full reports, statistics and pictures on the European Volleyball Confederation website
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Another 12 places remain up for grabs, with the next scheduled qualifying event being the South American Championship, 5-12 August in Santiago, which gives one ticket to Italy/Bulgaria.