Slovakia beats Spain in remake of European League final
2012 Olympic Games - European Qualification
Poprad, Slovakia, November 23, 2011. In a remake of the final match from this year’s CEV Volleyball European League Slovakia beat Spain 3:1 to qualify for the semifinals of the Olympic pre-qualifier in front of a sold-out arena in Poprad. In the second match of day 2 Montenegro caused a real surprise by edging Estonia in five sets.
With a full house, the atmosphere was just incredible as Slovakia and Spain crossed their ways once again some four months after the final match of the European League played in Kosice this past July. Spain caught a good start, by serving well and moving up 10:5; however, Slovakia fought back to draw level at 11 with a nice spike by opposite Martin Nemec. Slovakia went up 18:15 but Iban Perez clawed back for Spain for the 19 all. Slovakia dissipated another 2-point lead at 23:21 and Spain eventually clipped the opening set 28-26. In set 2 Slovakia started better and the score stood at 8:4 for the home side by the first technical time-out. The home team was very successful in attack and the score moved up gradually before Slovakia took home the second set 25-18. Spain set the pace 10:5 in the third set and home coach Stefan Chrtiansky opted for some important changes. His son Stefan Chrtiansky jr. joined the game and the 20-year old spiker did perform well. Slovakia turned the score around and seized the third set 25-23. The Slovakian players maintain that good momentum, they continued to play very strong and easily took the fourth set 25-14. “Spain minimized their mistakes and received a lot of balls in the first set. We didn’t play bad, but they played really great. After that we played more intelligently, we didn’t made that many mistakes in service and our defense was better and better. We changed the rhythm a little bit and that disrupted the efficiency of the Spanish defense” said the head coach of team Slovakia Stefan Chrtiansky. “We expected a tough match. We know very well how strong Slovakia is at home. We played good up to the 16:12 in the third set and I don’t know why we stopped there. Slovakia got back into the match and won the third set and finally the match 3:1. We have to be ready for the next match against Austria” added the head coach of team Spain Fernando Munoz.
In the second match Estonia played Montenegro that yesterday had lost to Turkey. The first set was tight but Estonia took a break and went up 20:18. It was not enough, because Montenegro made some nice blocks and finally won the first set 25-23. The opening part of the second set was also balanced but the Estonian attackers, especially star Oliver Venno, made a good job and the score moved up to 16:11 for the team from Tallinn that clipped the final 25-21. The third set was under control of Montenegro whose spiker Milivojevic was very successful in attack. Estonia came back in the very last part of the set and after Keel hit an ace, the score was 22:22. But the Estonian comeback was not finalized and Montenegro claimed the third set 25-22. Montenegro had problems in reception and Estonia led 10:6 in the fourth set. Estonia won this set easy 25-14 and the game was stretched to the tie-break. Estonia made three mistakes in attack and the score was quickly up to 6:1 for Montenegro in the start of the fifth set. Montenegro went up 9:4, but Estonia closed the score to 7:9. However, Montenegro finished the job well and won the tie-break 15-11. “We can be satisfied because we showed a good performance today like I promised yesterday. It is really a great victory because we beat a strong team. Estonia played in the final round of the last two European Championships. It is good that we can compare our power with good teams from Europe. Now I hope that tomorrow Turkey will beat Estonia and we will play Slovakia in the semifinals” said the head coach of Montenegro Ivan Joksimovic. “The beginning of the fifth set where we lost many points was decisive. We attacked four times in the block and made two attack mistakes. We didn’t manage to make up for that point difference until the end. Our play went up and down and if we play like this tomorrow, we have no chance against Turkey. But Montenegro showed that the quality can change a lot in two days, because their yesterday’s game compared to today’s was something else” added the head coach of team Estonia Avo Keel.