Seoul, Korea, June 4, 2017 – Korea’s Park Joo-Hyeong soared as a superstar scoring 24 points as Korea pulled off a hard-fought win over Finland after edging the strong visitors in an epic five-set thriller 24-26 25-21 25-23 22-25 15-13 in the last game of the World League first week on Sunday.
Korea finished their home fixtures with a 2-1 record, second behind unbeaten Slovenia. Jan Helenius was Finland’s top scorer with 20 points.
Finland had the edge in serving (6-3), blocking (12-7) and reception (43-38), but the key stat for the Koreans was their inspired defending, out-digging their opponents 22-8. A key dig by Lee Kang-Won, who had 17 points on the day, helped set up Choi Hong-Suk or the winning shot in the second set.
Finland made all the going in the tiebreaker and were 11-9 up only to see Korea level at 11. A disastrous mis-set by Eemi Tevaporti handed match point to the Koreans and the Finns then failed to return Lee’s serve, so ending the match.
It was Korea’s first win over Finland in the World League since 1993 when they beat the Finns three times. Since then, they have lost eight straight, but their last match also went to five sets with Korea losing the tiebreaker 19-17.
It’s the third time in four years that Finland have lost their opening three matches in the World League, while Korea have now won five of their last six World League matches.
Eemi Tervaportti, captain of Finland commented after the match: “Today we learned a few lessons about never giving up. Korea fought until the end and never gave up even when we were two points ahead. They came back with spirit, fighting, and defense. I think our own game was quite okay. We got better from yesterday’s game. It was not enough to win today but we will prepare for next match.
Lee Sun-Kyu, captain of Korea: “Finland played well today. Our national team are considered as a weak team but we have many young players who can show great performance. I’m glad that we were able to show the Korean fans our effort and passion. I think Jangchung Arena suits Korean national team very well. We look forward to playing the next six matches in Japan and Austria.
Park Joo-hyeong, player of Korea: “Our team consist of young players who are full of eagerness to win. Our faint motion worked well because Finland team’s block was high.
Tuomas Sammelvuo, coach of Finland: “Korea are a great team and I have a lot of respect for them. We played better than yesterday. Our side-out and attack worked better. What you have to learn from this day is to keep concentration and how to play with determination. You need a clear head to play in those crucial moments. It’s crucial to learn how to manage important moments. Keeping good concentration both inside and outside of the court is important.”
Kim Hochul, coach of Korea: “Finland know very well about Korea. In terms of tactics, Finland were ahead and they knew our weakness very well. We will have to overcome those weak points in the future. The players’ concentration was very low at the beginning. I respect the Finland’s strategy and spirit.”
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