Helsinki, Finland, January 14, 2015 - Volleyball was under the spotlight at the annual Finnish Sports Gala, with the country's sports journalists handing the Team of the Year 2014 prize to the men's volleyball team, which was ninth at the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship Poland 2014, while head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo received the Coach of the Year award.
The annual Finnish Sports Gala was televised live on YLE TV2 with 3,000 guests - including the players and the coaching staff of the men’s national team - in attendance at Hartwell Arena in Helsinki.
The Finnish volleyballers were all on stage as they received the award for the Team of the Year 2014. Sammelvuo, who delivered an emotional speech to thank his players, staff and the Finnish Volleyball Association, received a standing ovation.
The Finns, who were making a first appearance at a final round of a Men’s World Championship since 1982, finished the competition in ninth place, Finland's best result to date in the competition. They received 197 votes from the journalists in the panel, edging out competition from the national ice hockey team (181 votes), who were bronze medallists at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Sammelvuo topped the charts for the Coach of the Year award with 196 votes, ahead of two ice hockey coaches Karri Kivi and Erkka Westerlund, who finished second and third on 108 and 91 points respectively.
The panel of sports journalists involved in the voting process chose Olli Kunnari as Finland’s Volleyball Player of the Year 2014. Kunnari is a key member of the Finnish national team and plays for VaLePa Sastamala, a club representing Finland in the 2015 CEV Volleyball Cup – Men.