POGJALEN AND ARGENTINA BRUSH OFF SOUTH KOREA
Aix-en-Provence, France, June 10, 2018 – Cristian Poglajen produced another fine performance to lead Argentina to its second win in the 2018 Nations League as the South Americans swept past South Korea 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 26-24).
Cristian Poglajen was a constant menace, bagging 12 spikes and 1 block, alongside solid shows from Agustín Loser (5 blocks) and Sebastian Solé, who claimed 12 and 11 points respectively.
The Asian champs were led by Sung-Min Moon (19 points, including 2 blocks and 2 aces) while Jiseok Jung (14 points) also made contributions but none of them could overcome South Korean’s inexperience and many mistakes.
With just one victory coming into this final week 3 game, Argentina, who have troubled France and Serbia earlier, were slight favourites over winless South Korea. Both Korea and Argentina have won four of their last eight encounters at world level major competitions, with Korea winning the first, third, fifth and seventh and Argentina the second, fourth, sixth and eighth.
But it was the South Americans who took the better start, racing to a 6-3 despite the highflying Jiseok Jung springing into action. The Koreans tried to claw back into the game but committed too many mistakes, including a rare foot error on the service by Hui-Chae Song, to mount a challenge for Argentina as they increased their lead to 14-8. And, despite a last minute rally led by Jung, Julio Velasco’s men remained on top to lead 1-0 off the back of Cristian Poglajen’s lethal spikes (25-20).
It was more of the same in the second set with Argentina taking the lead at 7-3 and holding on to it. But South Korea, despite losing to both Serbia and France earlier in the week-end, have proved they were no pushovers and managed to keep their opponents under pressure thanks to the good work of Sang-Ha Park (11-10). Unable to pull away and take control of the set, Argentina couldn’t get a confortable cushion despite Tomas Lopez’s spikes and Agustín Loser’s blocks… until Korea made another mistake to offer the second set to Argentina (25-23).
With the wind in their sails, the Argentinians remained in control, jumping to an early 5-3 lead. The Asian champs fought tooth and nails but couldn’t sustain their efforts despite another stunning performance from Moon (16-13). And it was Lima who got the job done in spite of a last minute rally (26-24).
Argentina coach Julio Velasco: “We were able to keep the ball up and reorganise properly compare to yesterday’s game. Of course the level of the opposing team was different but it’s good that we focused on our counter-attacking. We slightly lost our concentration in the third set but we still came up with the win. We need to improve our game to reach the level of teams like France and Serbia. Squads like these do not have as many down moments as we do. Sometimes we need to move forward and try to get a third victory in the Volleyball Nations League as soon as possible.”
Argentina captain Cristian Poglajen: “It was necessary to win, given our losses since yesterday and the day before. These three points are very important for us in this competition. We are a young team and we’re increasing our level game after game. I don’t know if we can reach the finals but our ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Championship.”
Korea player Moon Sung-Min: “It was easier for Argentina to make points than us and that’s why we lost. We are still hoping we will be able to remain in this league in the years to come.”
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