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Sports

Host Germany reaches European volleyball finals in Berlin

The women's national side has reached the final of the Volleyball European Championships by beating Belgium in the semifinals in Berlin. The team will play Russia for the championship.

In Berlin's Max-Schmeling-Halle, the national side came back from two sets down in their CEV Volleyball European Championship semifinal to beat Belgium 3:2 (18:25, 20:25, 25:21, 25:21, 15:11) and take their place in Saturday's championship match against Russia.

German head coach Giovanni Guidetti said after Friday's match: "It is an amazing feeling. We won against a very strong team tonight. Congratulations to my players; even in the most difficult moments of the match they never gave up. Moreover, it was a victory for the supporters. More than 7,000 fans pushed us beyond our limits. Thanks to them we managed to make an incredible comeback."

Belgium went ahead in the first set to take it 25 points to 18. Guidetti called his players off the court to give them new instructions, but the Belgian team withstood the strategy to take the second set 25-20.

A close third set finally turned Germany's way as they came out winners, 25 points to 21. Going into the fourth set, the Belgian team pulled ahead again to lead 10-5 before Guidetti pulled his players off for another timeout. But with better serving and defensive play, the German team fought back to finally go into the lead at 20-19 before winning the set 25-21 and taking the match into a fifth set decider.

Little separated the teams until, with Belgium leading 8-7, Germany edged ahead to lead 15-11 and finish off the match after 134 minutes of play.

With Friday's win, Germany also qualified for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship in Italy.

jm/lw (dpa, sid)