Slovenia regrouped after the previous night’s epic five-setter against Brazil and found their way back to victory with a four-set win over Australia at the 2021 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy on Wednesday.

Fresh from winning their epic tie-break against Asian champions Iran the previous day, Australia made a confident start in the tough match against Slovenia to clinch the first set 25-18, but the spirited rivals put their acts together and bounced back mightily with powerful attacks to win the remaining three sets 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 and the 3-1 match.

Australia fared better in blocking ability to score 10 points through their blocking spree compared with Slovenia’s 6. However, the Slovenia’s opponents error also made a difference.

Klemen Cebulj was the top scorer of Slovenia after bagging 16 points, while Rok Mozic added 14. Luke Smith led Australia with 14 points and Nehemiah Mote had 11 on the team’s losing efforts.

Rok Mozic of Slovenia said at the virtual Mixed Zone: “It was an important victory. Australia have a good team and we were a little bit tired from yesterday, from the game against Brazil, so I’m happy that after losing the first set we were good enough to play better in the next three sets and win for another three points which are important for the standings.

“Key to our victory were, in my opinion, service and breakpoints. We were serving really well and they were struggling with receptions on three meters or even more. We had a good defence and block and breakpoints and I think that’s how we won this match.”

Australia’s Luke Smith said: “We definitely caught them by surprise. In the first set we really shot volleyball service, defence and attack. But as all good teams in the VNL it’s undoubtable that they will respond. And when they did we weren’t able to stay with them for an extended period of time.

“So the feeling is – proud of the progress that we are making every day, but it’s quite tough not to get awarded by points in the VNL. Yesterday’s victory was really important to raise the belief, but today’s loss is a little bit disappointing again, because like in the matches before we were not able to come away with any points.”

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