Greece tops its qualifying group to advance to volleyball’s worlds

The men’s national volleyball team consolidated its status as an international force by reaching the World Championships for the fourth successive time – and fifth in total – after defeating Turkey 3-0 late on Tuesday night in Larissa, northern Greece, where group qualifying competition was held in recent days. The finals will take place in Japan next November. Late last night, Greece also registered a 3-0 win over Serbia-Montenegro, which fielded mostly reserves in a game that was insignificant to both sides, as they had already secured their finals berths with wins in their first two games. In its opening game, Greece beat Portugal 3-0. Earlier yesterday, Portugal overcame Turkey 3-0 to capture the group’s third spot, which provides a second chance for qualification through playoffs. «We’re happy with the result and the fact that Greece has reached the World Cup finals for the fourth time in a row,» remarked Greece’s coach Costas Haritonidis. Despite winning in straight sets, Tuesday night’s encounter between Greece and Turkey was toughly contested. Greece won the first set 25-22 after managing no more than a four-point lead. Turkey bounced back in the second set, and looked promising toward the end with a 22-20 lead. But Greece, aided by a fired-up capacity home crowd, fought back to win the set with a 25-23 score. Turkey came even closer to striking back in the third set. The visitors held a 24-22 lead but the Greek team remained composed to eventually take the set, 29-27, for victory and qualification. «We wanted victory and qualification and played at the level required to attain this,» said Greece’s captain Marios Giourdas. «We controlled the game, were particularly careful at the end, and won the crucial points, as was the case in the previous match,» he added. Turkey’s captain Ozdemir Baris described the game as difficult for both sides but admitted Greece was better equipped to deal with the encounter’s needs. «The Greek team was helped by its strong and tall players. We couldn’t find the solutions to stop them,» Baris said. «But, despite the 3-0 score, the differences were marginal. Congratulations to Greece for qualifying,» he added.

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