Helsinki, Finland, June 5, 2018. The women’s national team of Finland have a real shot at a spot in the Final Four tournament of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League. The 2017 European League silver medallists need to take two sets against Hungary on Wednesday at the Érd Arena, Budapest to secure their participation in the final stage of the competition.
“This situation is ideal for us. The match has a big importance but we have played very well until now,” Tapio Kangasniemi, the head coach of Team Finland says.
After losing their opening match in Pool B to Croatia, Finland have won four matches in a row. Playing two matches per week and travelling across Europe is not an easy thing, but Team Finland has been coping with this just fine.
“This is something like high-wire acrobatics – how much to practice and how much to rest. There are no signs of tiredness and actually the team is full of energy and looking forward to the next match,” Kangasniemi rejoices.
Salla Karhu has been one of the reasons behind Finland’s success in the competition. The 24-year-old outside spiker has been playing a big role as a receiver and an attacker as well. Karhu (whose surname means “Bear”) is 100 % worthy of her name. She is a soft friend for the teammates but on the court, she turns into a dangerous rival for the opponents.
“I am a quite demanding person to myself, also carefree and try to spread good humour as well,” Karhu pictures herself. “Our team is very involved in professional Volleyball, the atmosphere in the group is cheerful and everyone has fun all the time,” she adds.
Even though the Golden European League is an important showroom for her future career, Karhu does not want to take any pressure from that. “I want to play well all the time, not to promote myself. Of course good performances help you find a club outside of Finland,” says Karhu, who next season will be playing for Quimper Volley 29 in France.
Team Finland has not had the time for exploring the city of Budapest. Kangasniemi is not worried about this because their target is to take a spot in the Final Four, which will be taking place in the Hungarian capital on June 14-15. “We have seen the city only via the windows of our bus and hotel. Budapest seems to be a nice metropole. So why not come back here next week,” Kangasniemi hints.