2018 FIVB Men’s World Championships – Round 2 – Pool E
- Sept. 21-24, 2018
- Forum di Assago; Milan, Italy
- #4 Italy, #4 Russia, #18 Finland, #25 Netherlands
Although Finland will not be moving on to the FIVB Men’s World Championship Final Six and lost all three of its Round 2 matches, spirits are high.
“To be here in Milan is already an incredible result for us,” head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo said. “It was already an honor to qualify for the World Championship and it was out of our dreams to reach the second stage. I am very happy of how my team performed, especially the young players that in this match (against Russia) really did a wonderful job. We achieved such results with great sacrifice and I hope my country will recognize this and give more attention to volleyball.”
The team’s top scorer with 82 points, Urpo Sivula, also saw the positives in the World Championships efforts.
“We have a young team, and many of these young players could be the superstar of the future, since some of us have probably played their last games, and this makes me happy,” Sivula said after the team’s final match. “I think we did well in this tournament even though, at times, we could have done better. To be amongst the top 20 teams in the world is already incredible and everyone is happy about this.”
As the 30-year old Sivula mentioned, a few of the players are aging.
Younger players who saw time for the team against Russia were Niko Suihkonen (19) and Niklas Breilin (19). Breilin started at libero in the team’s finale. Henrik Porkka (20) also was on the team’s World Championships roster.
The Finns placed ninth in the 2014 World Championships after failing to qualify from 1986 to 2010. By making the second round in 2018, the team finishes among the Top 16, its second best finish since 1952 (11th) behind the 2014 Top 10 effort.
Finland was 12th at the European Championships in 2015 and 2017.
At the World Championships, Finland went 2-6, defeating Cuba (3-1) and Puerto Rico (3-2) in Pool D, securing the fourth second round berth from the group. The Finns also took Iran to five sets before falling in pool play (19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12).
In the second round, Finland faced two of the top five teams in the world in Italy and Russia and the always dangerous Dutch team.
The 18th-ranked Finns did manage to take a set off of the Netherlands on Saturday earning compliments from Dutch coach Gido Vermeulen.
“Finland, in the second set, gave us a bit of a headache with their good serves, but we were able to regain confidence,” Vermeulen said.