Belgium, Spain, Estonia start with victories in World Championship qualifiers


Sergio Noda punches through the block of Germany's Lukas Kampa to lead Spain to triumph on the opening day of the European qualifiers at Kortrijk for the 2018 FIVB World Championship.

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 19, 2017 - Hosts Belgium, Spain and Estonia all set off on the right foot Wednesday in Kortrijk as the last round kicked off of European qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship.

Six teams are on the line for one remaining European ticket to the flagship FIVB event which will be jointly hosted by Italy and Bulgaria. Another six European teams advanced to the World Championship last month.

Belgium opened proceedings in the single round-robin pool in Kortrijk with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-15) sweep of Slovakia as Bram van den Dries scored 17 points and Sam Deroo another 13. Belgium were dominant on the net with 12 stuffs to 4 and 49% (31/63) to 36% (33/91) in attacking efficiency.

Belgium's Bram van den Dries gets the ball over the Slovak block of Frantisek Ogurcak and Peter Ondrovic as he leads Belgium to an opening day win at the European qualifiers in Kortrijk for the 2018 FIVB World Championship.

Augusto Colito scored 21 points to lead Spain to a stunning win over 2014 World Championship bronze medallists Germany 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-22, 25-19). Germany's Simon Hirsch with 23 points was top scorer of the game, but again superiority on the net made the difference for Spain who bagged 13 stuffs to 7 and attacked for 52% (50/97) to 45% (50/111).

Estonia, winners of FIVB World League Group 3 (with a win over Spain in the final) last month in their debut season, wrapped up the day in Kortrijk with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23) win over Belarus. Belarus fought tooth and nail until the bitter end, but the Baltic side prevailed on the back of 16 points from Robert Taht and another 12 from Oliver Venno, plus better control in reception.

Competition in Kortrijk continues on Thursday, including a clash between the two undefeated sides of Estonia and Spain at 20:00 local time (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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