Czech Republic happy with European qualification, Austria and Croatia to fight for second place
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men
Ostrava, Czech Republic, September 15, 2012. The home guys of the Czech Republic booked their spot for the final round of the 2013 European Championship on Saturday after they stretched their winning streak to five consecutive matches by cruising past the Former Y.R. of Macedonia in straight sets (25-20, 25-15, and 25-14). In the other match of the day Croatia surprisingly lost to Austria and that leaves the door open for the third and last qualification round to the players mentored by Michael Warm.
After a relatively slow start, the Czech team around head coach Stewart Bernard cruised to an 8:4 lead in the first set moving then up to 14:7; the set was eventually cashed at 25-20 with the precious help of local favorite David Konecny that was enthusiastically cheered by the crowd.
The Czech Republic went up 16:9 in set 2 and a speedy 25-15 was quickly pocketed by the Czechs. Jakub Janouch got some playing time in set 3 and the Czechs cruised to a massive 13:2 after the game was joined also by Karl Linz and Vladimir Sobotka. The fans paid back their heroes with a standing ovation as they sealed the final 25-13 that means their qualification for next year’s European Championship.
“I am very proud of my team and they deserved this European ticket because they have been working really hard” said Bernard. “We slowed down a bit in the end of the first set but we had the game under control. My guys today showed that they know how to play Volleyball”.
“We are very pleased with our qualification and today’s match was some kind of a special present to all our fans. We were drawn to a relatively easy group but this comes from our good past results. I hope we can testify our positive development also at the European Champs” said Czech captain Ondrej Hudecek.
Quite surprisingly Croatia lost earlier in the afternoon to Austria 1:3 (19-25, 17-25, 29-27, 21-25) and after yesterday’s defeat to Macedonia, things get really complicated for the side around superstar Igor Omrcen. Austria showed some great fighting spirit to win the first set and did so also in the second, before missing two match balls in set 3 where Omrcen eventually took his side by the hand up to the final 29-27. Still that was all for Croatia as Austria did not miss their chance and with this win the players in red and white jerseys are still in contention for the second place in the standings of the group. Thomas Zass paced Austria with a massive haul of 26 points. “It was our last chance and we could deliver a top performance. I would like to thank my teammates because even after losing the third set, they did not stop fighting” said a happy Austrian captain Daniel Gavan. “There is not much to say, it was a superb performance of my team” added head coach Michael Warm.
“In comparison with yesterday, my players showed the right attitude and more composure but this was not enough to beat Austria” stated Croatia’s mentor Igor Simuncic. “After winning the third set I wanted to see my players fight with more energy but they rather looked tired. Five games in only nine days is quite demanding for such a young team”.
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