Serbia beat Belgium as first step on road to Tokyo 2020

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On Friday Serbia beat Belgium 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21) in both teams final match of the mens European Olympic Qualifier in Berlin. In their previous two matches defeats had come against Germany and Poland so pride was at stake for the players as they met in the first game of the day at Max-Schmeling-Halle.

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Serbia vs. Belgium 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21)

In the first set the teams started evenly and traded points until the first technical time-out. There was one of the shots of the match from Serbias Uros Kovacevic, when he applied a deft touch at the net to give his side the lead. However from the resulting serve the Serb fired his effort into the net, much to his frustration. Serbia maintained a three-point lead for much of the latter stages, stretched their lead and held out to win 25-18, with an ace sealing the set.

This is the end of our Olympic dream and we now have to wait for another four years, said Belgium middle blocker Pieter Verhees. However, we can be positive as we are still young and we have time to grow. It still feels sad to realise you have to wait for another four years to be given that same chance again.

Serbia coach Nikola Grbic: Yesterday we started the preparation for Tokyo. We will have to change some things to be able to support the team even if the result is not coming immediately. If we want to be there and be present we have to change. Usually Im always thinking about where I made mistakes and where I can change things. Constantly moving up the ladder. I know about me but maybe for some of the team its not good. Its also a process for me. Now Im doing something else as a coach and its difficult to go inside the head of a player because I dont have time. I did everything to the best of my ability but if the team is playing like this you really have to think about what you should change.

Belgiums long wait for another Olympic Games appearance goes on, having failed to qualify since 1968. Serbia, former Olympic gold medallists when competing as Yugoslavia at Sydney 2000, have missed out on a Games for the first time since Barcelona 1992.


Dominique Baeyens Belgium responded well and led by one at the first technical time-out of the second set. They soon extended their lead to three at 13-10, but were behind at 18-17. The Red Dragons earned themselves four set points at 24-20 and a net fault gifted them victory.

Serbia recovered and led 8-6 in the third set, but both teams had service problems. They led by three at the second technical time-out as they moved to within a set of victory and with Aleksandar Atanasijevic scoring well they prevailed 25-21 thanks to a Kovacevic kill.

In the fourth set Serbia led early on and were ahead at the first technical time-out. But after a talk from Baeyens the Red Dragons powered ahead and led 17-13 as they tried to force a tiebreak. However, a great comeback from the Serbs put them level at 20-20 and ahead one point later. The win was confirmed when a powerful Serbian spike was too hot to handle.

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Hinweis: Dies ist ein aktueller Bericht vom 08.01.2016!



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