Denmark wins return match but Britain advances
Great Britain's men are through to the second round of the 2009 Menís European Championships after edging out Denmark over the course of two thrilling five-setters. In the end, only five points separated the two teams in favor of the British line-up, who lost 3:2 on Saturday in Odense, Denmark, but still managed to get enough points to qualify for the next round.
The first set was crucial to the away team as they came out firing and seemed to stun the Danes taking the set 25-14.
This essentially meant that Denmark had to win the match 3:1 to progress since the Brits were enjoying a commanding lead in the points ratio. The second set saw some exciting action as Denmark held small leads throughout. Great Britain managed a late comeback and even had several set points before the Danes finally took the set through an attack hit out of the court by Great Britain's Chris Lamont (32-30).
In the third, the home side seemed to have the upper hand, as good passing and strong serving from Mads Ditlevsen brought them to 13-8. The Danes also led 22-19, but with some strong serves toward the end from Mark Plotyczer and Lamont, Great Britain managed to survive two set points and finished the set 26-24.
Denmark now faced an almost impossible task as the local favorites were supposed to win the two final sets by a margin of 17 points. They did make a spirited attempt, but the British team, led by their setter and captain Ben Pipes, were solid throughout the fourth set and importantly gained 21 more points. Now, three points in the final set were enough to see Great Britain qualify for the second round and the Brits eventually got them at 3-5. Denmark played some better volleyball in this set and won it 15-8, but it was a too late revenge for the home team.
Denmark's Mads Ditlevsen stated at the end of the match: "I am very disappointed. We really felt like we had a chance of going all the way to the final round of the European Championships. We know that we can play well. We just didn't show that tonight. I felt like the match in Great Britain was decisive. We didn't manage to do the things we have been working on in practice."
Great Britain's head coach Arie Brokking: "I am very happy. It's a big day for British volleyball. We go through thanks to our superb start to this match. We want to build a team that can compete in the 2012 Olympics, where we are automatically qualified as the host nation. We have worked very hard on that, and because of that we have made a lot of progress."