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VNL: Slovenia secures Final 8 ticket, eliminates Netherlands in straight sets

Slovenia swept the Netherlands in their elimination game. Cesca Rampas
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASAY—Slovenia clobbered the gritty Netherlands, in a hard-fought 25-20, 32-30, 25-22 victory to solidify its place in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Volleyball Nations League (VNL), at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

With the preliminary phase coming to an end, the Slovenians put it all on the line and bagged a huge win that improved their record to 8-4.

Team captain Tine Urnaut, alongside Klemen Čebulj, and Rok Mozic delivered down the stretch for Slovenia as the trio provided spearheaded the game-winning rally that ended Netherlands' hope of Final 8 contention. 

Wing spiker Urnaut finished with 14 points, on 12 attacks and two aces while Čebulj and Mozic added crucial 13 and 11 markers for Sloveniela.

Fighting for his team's tournament lives, the tournament-leading attacker Nimir Abdel-Aziz delivered astonishing plays one after the other in an intense rally in the second set, including a tip that gave a 30-29 advantage for the Netherlands. 

But Slovenia managed to survive the set after a block by Alen Pajenk.

Abdel-Aziz put on a show in his last game in Manila chipping in 22 points, on 18 attacks, two blocks, and two aces performance. 

Slovenia now sets its focus on the quarterfinal stage that will be held in Gdansk, Poland on July 19-23.

Follow him on Twitter: @rhey_piamonte

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