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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dutch Volleyball Squad Stays Undefeated, Beats Russia 2-0

Reigning Olympic champion the Netherlands won its matches 3-1 and 3-2 over Russia in a preliminary round of the $8 million World Volleyball League to remain undefeated in their group.

Despite playing without five of their top stars, the Dutch swept the hosts 2-0 over the weekend at Moscow's CSKA arena. Russia, once a world superpower in men's volleyball, remains winless after four matches, losing twice to Cuba by the same 3-0 score a week ago in Havana. But even if it doesn't win any of its eight remaining games, it will still qualify for the league's finals as the host country.

For the first time in the eight-year history of the WVL, the six-team finals will be held in Moscow's Olympiiski Sports Complex from June 30 to July 5.

After claiming Friday's opening match, winning four quick sets in less than two hours, the Dutch, who played without their injured captain Bas Van de Goor, were taken to the fifth-set tiebreaker by the home team Saturday afternoon. But the Russians, who used their home-grown reserves instead of their veterans in Game 2, still came up short in the tiebreaker, 15-12.

Dutch coach Toom Gerbrands said his squad's victory was due to fine play on key points in the fourth and fifth sets, while his Russian adversary, Vyacheslav Platonov, expressing a sentiment familiar to national soccer, hockey and basketball managers, blamed his highly paid foreign contingent for the team's poor play.

"I can only hope if we meet during the finals, our team will be in better shape than today," Platonov said.