Belgium, Estonia break away in race for World Championship


Kert Toobal sets the ball to Andri Aganits as Estonia crush Spain in Kortrijk at the European qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB World Championship.

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 20, 2017 - Hosts Belgium and Estonia remain the only undefeated teams after Day 2 of the last round of European qualifiers for a ticket to the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship. Both scored solid wins Thursday in Kortrijk, where six teams are battling in a single round-robin pool for one qualifying spot to the event that will be jointly hosted by Italy and Bulgaria next year.

Another six European teams advanced to the World Championship last month.

In the match of the day Estonia demolished Spain 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-19), extending their record to 2-0 after their opening day win over Belarus. Oliver Venno with 17 points and Robert Taht with 14 were once again Estonia's top scorers, as the Baltic side's attacking efficiency of 38/76 for 50% (to Spain's 35/91 for 38%) made up for shortcomings in reception.

After downing Slovakia in straight sets on the opening day, Belgium shut out Belarus 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-17) on Thursday with Sam Deroo leading the way on 15 points as the hosts overwhelmed Bealrus on the net and applied pressure from the service line.

Belgium's Kevin Klinkenberg smashes the ball past the Bealrus block of Pavel Audochanka Thursday in Kortrijk.

Belgium and Estonia are set to meet on Sunday, closing day of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Germany bounced back from their openind day defeat to Spain with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 26-24) sweep of Slovakia on the back of 18 points from Denys Kaliberda. Despite problems in reception, Germany dominated Slovakia on the net to clinch the win which keeps their hopes alive - though they now have a mountain to climb to overcome the deficit from their loss on Wednesday.

Triple block by Germany's Lukas Kampa, Tobias Krick and Christian Fromm goes up to stop Slovakia's Tomas Krisko Thursday in Kortrijk.

Competition in Kortrijk continues on Friday, including crucial matches between Belgium and Spain at 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT) followed by Germany v Estonia at 20:00 (18:00 GMT).

Full reports, statistics and pictures on the European Volleyball Confederation website.

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Italy and Bulgaria as hosts and Poland as defending champions have qualified directly to the 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.

Another 13 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.


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