Finland and the Czech Republic posted wins Thursday in different fashions during second-round Pool H action of the 2010 FIVB Men's World Championship.
Finland had little trouble in a straight-sets victory over Ukraine, while the Czechs needed five sets and plenty of fight to get past Belgium.
Ukraine maintained a lead over the Finns until midway through the first set when Finland's Italian coach Mauro Berruto made a few changes, including incorporating Olli-Pekka Ojansivu, who aced his first serve then forced his opponents to attack from a bad position that resulted in a mistake and a loss of the set.
It was a similar refrain in the second set, with Ukraine leading 16-14 by the second technical timeout. But once again the "Suomi" battled back for the win, this time thanks to the service game of Olli Kunnari and two errors from Ukraine.
The Finns dominated the third set, taking the lead and sustaining it before walking away with a 25-20 win.
A real battle ensued in the second match, with the Czech Republic eventually prevailing over Belgium.
Belgium's defense and blocking game were impeccable to start the match, and, aided by the left-hand serves of Gert Van Walle, the visitors took an early 3-point lead in the first frame.
But the hosts responded with David Konecny in the service area, overturning the deficit to make it 9-6 before the teams traded points until 22-22. But four serving errors by the Czechs and five set balls for the Belgians eventually saw the opening frame go to the visitors.
The Czechs switched setters in the second set and their game at the net immediately improved. The Belgians had a tough time dealing with the multidimensional Czech attack and despite a solid performance from captain Kristof Hoho, Belgium dropped the set 28-26.
The Czechs started the third set off poorly, but managed to knot the score up midway through before another dramatic battle took place to close the set, once again going in favor of the Czechs, 28-26.
Belgium forced a tiebreak by knotting the game at 2-2 with the only marginally comfortable set win of the match, 25-20 in the fourth frame.
The decisive set started out positively for Belgium, who took a 3-0 lead before the Czechs fought back with splendid blocks and a rare Belgian mistake to tie it at 6-6 and 7-7.
After the teams changed the sides, Belgium twice miraculously recovered balls deflected from the Czech block. Konecny hit two powerful spikes for the Czechs, but the Belgian defense was equal to the task as well.