Thursday, March 24, 2016

Finnish player ends on top

Hanna Salomäki go home soon to Finland but is open to a sequel in Sweden. In GVK she has gained lifelong friends and also delivered on the court, which means that she won in Värnamo Nyheter's Hat Leage for GVK season 15/16. Photo: Henrik Hultqvist

Finnish spiker ended up in the top

Salomäki: "I was nervous about whether they would like me or not"

Hanna Salomäki took the win in the league hat in GVK.
But she did not know what she should expect when she came to Sweden.

You won the hat league this year. What do you think about that?
- Of course, I got a smile when I hear it. I have worked hard to get where I am right now and I'm really glad that other people can see it too. It keeps me motivated!

The season as a whole, what do you say about your own performance?
- I remember when I first came that people [around the club] talked about me as a good defender and receiver. But during the season, I have found the player in me that kills balls and steps up in tough situations. During the season, I have grown as a person. I had to take a lot of responsibility and it has given me a lot of confidence.

- But it's really sad that I got sick after the first playoff game and could not play after that. Competing in the playoffs is what all players want to do.

What do you say about the team's season?
- Our expectations were high for this season and we worked hard throughout the season to be ready for the playoffs. Unfortunately, Esther (de Vries) got injured during the second half of the season but the players who stepped up and played on her position, did it really well and I'm proud of them all. We had everything in our hands during the playoffs but Svedala had a little more routine.

What made you come to Sweden and Gislaved first place?
- I always wanted to see how volleyball is abroad, but I did not want to travel too far from home. So Sweden sounded like a good place and luckily Gislaved contacted my agent and wanted me. Of course I said yes and here I am, seven months later.

Was it what you expected?
- It was my first year abroad, so I did not really know what to expect. I remember I was really nervous about whether they would like me or not, haha. I'm glad they did and I liked the atmosphere when I came here the first time. They have taken good care of me and helped me when I needed it so there have not been any problems at all. During the years I have gained friends for life, so it's probably not my last time in Sweden.

Speaking of which, are you open to a new season in Gislaved, or should you move on?
- I have not met the board yet, but it will happen soon. Obviously I'm always open to opportunities here and elsewhere.

What will happen next for you?
- I go home to Finland soon, I can hardly wait to see my family and friends again. When I am well again I will start working out and when the summer comes to Finland and I'll play beach volleyball with my younger sister. But otherwise, I'll do a little traveling and enjoy the summer!

Facts: Hats VK Gislaved

1. Hanna Salomäki, 25.
2. Meghan Sherman, 23.
3. Lisa Tannerfalk, 20.
4. Jessica Lakatos, 17
5. Ester de Vries, 16.
6. Mathilda Carlsson 11.
7. Ebba Ekblad, Sofie Back 6.
9. Elin Andersson, Emma Tegnhammar, Pauline Adolfsson; 2.
12. Ida Lindbäck, Therese Bengtsson 1.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Season over for GVK

There was heavy challenge for GVK in the third quarter-final against Svedala. 
Photo: Henrik Hultqvist

Season over for GVK

Gislaved failed to blare out a victory in the quarterfinals meeting against Svedala. It is clear after loss 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-11) in the third match.

Gislaved had no good options.

Two of the three international professionals was missing and the first Libero.

But they still challenged the home team in the first set. After a nightmare opening where they trailed 0-6, GVK stood tall.

"It is the absolute best set ever with those who were on the court," says coach Daniel Magnusson.

They could not edge closer than 22-25, and were unable to pressure Svedala the rest of the game.

Second set was won by the home team with ten balls and the third and last of the season for GVK, with a clear 14 points.

Thus, the season is over for Gislaved losing match series against Svedala 3-0 in matches.

"There are many emotions running through your body but what I am pleased about is how we finished considering the players we have and the situation has become. We conclude with flying colors even if there is a loss it says on paper."

Virus raging through GVK before fate-match

Salomäki almost could not breathe - Lakatos' run over by the bus

Gislaved's Jessica Lakatos is an unsecured card for tonight's quarter-finals 3: 5 against Svedala.
Photo: Patrik Nilsson

Can GVK manage to keep the quarterfinal series alive? Svedala leads 2-0 in the best of five games.
The only way? Victory tonight.

Sunday afternoon. Just outside of Malmö.

During warm up, the team's leading point scorer Hanna Salomäki overheated to the point that breathing became difficult.

Later that evening, it was the Libero Jessica Lakatos who was unlucky.

"I came home and suddenly felt ill and later like I had been run over by a bus," she says.

Monday spent in bed.

"I have been drinking lots of water, eating honey and painkillers. I hope to be fit for the game but it is uncertain to know now," says Jessica on Monday evening.

Key player Ester De Vries is long gone from the game, suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in late January.

"I know that none of the players have given up. We have the capacity to turn the match again Svedala and then get to a home game where we can level the series at 2-2," says Jessica Lakatos.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hopeless GVK fell marginally

The coach Daniel Magnusson and his GVK is on the way out of the Championship finals.
Photo: Henrik Hultqvist 

SM-playoffs risk becoming a short story for Gislaved who, on Sunday, lost Quarterfinal 2.

The home team from Skåne won an undisputed match 3-0 in sets by 25-13, 25-13 and 25-12.

Svedala took Wednesday's first quarterfinal meeting (3-2), which means that fate will be decided on Tuesday, also at Svedala' home court.

"I can not give us more than a failing grade for this. We had nothing to give, and did not got better when Hanna Salomäki forced to throw in the towel after overheating," said Daniel Magnusson.

The reason: fever.

"She could hardly breathe and I will certainly not risk anyone's well-being. With Hanna on the sideline, I was forced to rotate in positions where Mathilda Carlsson took care of the left and Ida Lindbäck right side. It was of course not optimal, and such changes gave a clear advantage to Svedala," says GVK-coach.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Precision, hardness, and a hell of a lot of misses

VN-sport test goes on.
After hockey with Värnamo GIK, handball with Anderstorps SK was now time for Gislaved VK and volleyball.
And I got to know that I was alive.

I will start well this text as I did before.

I have experience in this sport too.

Hockey, I had been playing at a young age and handball I had predisposition, but neither of them was my cup of tea.

Could volleyball, a sport I played a lot in my years in school, be something?

Well, not that either.

It turned out that when I got the challenge from Gislaved VK's elite teams, they just wanted to mess with me.

And I really fell for it.

I came to the hall at 6pm, half an hour before the start, and were immediately told that we would run an exercise called the ladder, this is the team's suggestion. The team wanted to run it.

It was pure hell, if I may be so crude. Footwork and coordination has never been my strong suit, and it showed. The girls on the team smiled significantly and I tried hard but embarrassed myself quite dramatically.

Lisa Tannerfalk took me under her wing. I became her protégé. She tried to show me how to turn. A spike from her side became more of a serve from my side.

But then there were the warmups.

Serve game I thought was perfect during practice for. In any case, after I had been testing five or six times after smashing the first in the net.

"You can let the toss drop, if you want," said coach Daniel Magnusson.

I ignored the suggestion. I would get the ball. And eventually, I got there in the end.

But having watched the video afterward, my serves were not at all perfect. Balloon Serves was the right word but the team cheered for every ball I got over. If they were kind, or cheered sarcastically should be left unsaid, but I want to believe that it was the former.

But most of the work I had to do was serve receiving, and I can say that it was not my thing.

When you stand at the sideline thinking that they do not serve so hard. It's easy to expect, but when the well-trained serves flew past me, I changed my tune rather quickly.

But it is often not all about the power, I noticed. It's all about precision. To see where the opponent is on the court and put the ball where they are not. For I do not know how many times I thought I was in a good place to receive a spike but I just did not have my hands together.

But then it was not just accuracy. When Hannah Salomäki arrived and took in her spot on the floor, I stood paralyzed. I had really only a little bit of luck that Dutch spiker Ester de Vries was not at practice. Then I would not have been able to write this piece.

But is volleyball easy? Well, maybe in school. Maybe where you are the most athletic in a class with people who are fairly indifferent. But against the elite teams? Forget it. You have no chance.

Or as coach Daniel Magnusson said:

"You're lucky this is not a men's team."

Well, thanks.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

GVK shocked 3rd-ranked team

Gislaved did - almost.

A cliffhanger ended in victory for the visiting Svedala by 2-3 (25-22, 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 10-15).

The first quarter-final of the Championship play-off was going Gislaveds way.

They won the first set and had the prime position when they won the third set to take a 2-1 lead in sets.

But lack of experience shone through. Plagued by unforced mistakes, GVK gave seasoned Svedala the chance to take stride. But it was a real shocker.

The fourth set ended with only five points difference in favor of the visiting team. In the fifth and final set, Svedala led 3-7, but with one quick point, Gislaved had a chance to catch up to the end. The teams battled back-and-forth to 9-9 before Svedala took their final plunge to win the match.

"This [quarterfinal] series is not over, no doubt about it," says coach Daniel Magnusson.

Outside-hitter Hanna Salomäki thoughts, you can see in the video link below:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

GVK is hopeless in quarterfinals - according to national team coach

The search for SM-Gold kicks off on Wednesday.

Star player Ester De Vries will be absent when Gislaved begins quarterfinal series against Svedala on Wednesday night.
"But without her, the playoffs will be short," says Ismo Peltoarvo. took a chat with Sweden's national coach - who played down Gislaveds chance.

Despite that, GVK notoriously defeated Svedala in the beginning of 2016.

But without hard-hitting Dutch player Ester De Vries, the playoffs could be a short story for the team, says Ismo Peltoarvo.

"As long as Ester De Vries was in play, Gislaved felt like a team that could surprise everyone. Now I have very hard to see them take a match against Svedala. Says more of the high-class Ester is," he says.

In the Dutch player's absence, Peltoarvo choose to highlight Gislaved's other foreign professionals.

"Hanna Salomäki (from Finland) and Meghan Sherman (USA) belong to the Elite series top players. GVK has done a good job of recruiting professionals," added the coach.

Among the Swedish names, Ismo believes that a great talent Ebba Ekblad, from Värnamo, stands out.

"Ebba's rapid development is, and will be especially interesting to follow in the future," he says of the young girl who joined from playing in Division 2 in the winter.

Does Daniel Magnusson have what it takes to be a successful Elite League coach?
"Yes, Daniel has impressed and really seems to be the wise tactical choice. But to build a winning culture, and I mean to be a constant championship candidate, it requires that the organizations have a full-time coach. There is one way that Gislaved can improve, compared to those few top clubs who have chosen to give their coaches the opportunity to focus on their mission fully," says Ismo Peltoarvo.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Daniel Magnusson knows exactly how the team should play against Svedala

Engelholm was the team they thought they would get.
But when the quarterfinals elections were finished, it was a completely different team.
- There's no way, says coach Daniel Magnusson.

Engelholm got to pick first. They chose RIG Falköping. Örebro chose Sollentuna, and Gislaved? Svedala.

"Most people here thought it would be Engelholm, historically, they tend to choose us. Now we will face Svedala, and we think this will be a fun series. First-place against last, runner-up took 7th, and so on," says Magnusson.

Svedala is a team that Gislaved defeated during the regular season, winning on their home court and Magnusson's keys to success are clear:

"It's about to get rid of their foreign players. Mo Simmons has 450 points, that's pretty impressive. You have to get her off balance."

How to get a player out of balance in volleyball?
"Trip her at the net ..."

"No, joking aside, we should be a little tougher against them and win the mental games. An additional block, or our players can utilize their hands to get the block-out."

Gislaved begins the quarterfinal series at home on Wednesday, and will therefore have a slight advantage before playing quarterfinals two and three in Svedala.

"This first game is the most important. To go down to Svedala is tough, all the teams have trouble down there. It's a boring gym."

"Now it's about building confidence and remind the players of everything that we have done well. There is no point to anything that has not worked, but you should be aware of it and see the possibilities."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Thought we should challenge them more"

Gislaved lost the last regular season game against Örebro.
"They did it well," says coach Daniel Magnusson.

Gislaved lost their match against Örebro 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-14). Daniel Magnusson was not happy but his focus is already moving forward.

"I thought we could challenge Engelholm more."

Didn't you play Örebro ?!
"Yes. What did I say? Engelholm? Yes, we talked about them right. But as I said, we thought we could challenge the more. They serve well, it was a bit like the match against Svedala," he says.

It was, in other words, not the conclusion Gislaved wanted as they enter the quarterfinals, which begins on Wednesday.

"No, of course not. We talked before the game that we do not care about the result but you want to have a good feeling."

"But you can see it in other ways too. Now we are hungry for revenge, as it should be, no matter which team we meet."

"We did not step up today. Neither as a team or as individuals. The heart was there and the will. But we froze in the game and we could not match Örebro."

Quarterfinals elections released late in the evening, but Magnusson think it will be Engelholm who stands as their playoff opponent.

"They may take RIG to get a lighter resistance, but historically, they like to choose us."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Controversial proposals discarded - Englund exhales

Gislaved's Finnish scoring machine Hanna Salomäki could have been plucked out of the game if the union's proposals for a maximum of two foreign players become reality. Photo: Henrik Hultqvist

GVK-sports chief: "Imported spice league"

Maximum of two foreign players on the court.
That was the league proposal that recently triggered a storm of protest.

The federation voted and the proposal, for the time being, was returned to the back burner.

Something Gislaved cheered for.

"Imported players creates more interest. Those who play in Sweden are very skilled and we want to continue to see that teams get to have three foreigners on the court at the same time," says GVK's sports director Lars Englund.

"At the same time, I recognize that there are some reluctant feelings. It's obvious that everyone wants more talented Swedes, but we're not there yet, and may not get there without the contributions from these international players," continues Englund.

If the federation's proposal was accepted, GVK's successful pros Meghan Sherman, Ester De Vries or Hanna Salomäki, would have suffered the consequences.

"There is not a club [in Sweden] who can afford professional on the bench," claims Lars Englund.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ekblad selected for junior national team

Earlier in the season, she left Värnamo VBA to join Gislaved VK in the elitserien.
Now she will play in the national team.

For Ebba Ekblad, the decision to join GVK was to train and learn through the tail end of the season.

But she impressed, earning playing time and the attention of the volleyball federation.

Ekblad has been named to the U19 national team that will compete at the European Championship-qualifiers in Rovinj, Croatia this March-April.

The team will face the host nation Croatia before taking on Turkey and finally Spain.

The winner of the group qualifies through to the finals. The runner-up and the best third-place team from the various groups go to the qualifying round three.

The squad includes players from nine different clubs.