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20/09/2013 19:00
Surprising win over Russia opens the tournament for Germany, Bulgaria overpowers Czech Republic
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men

Gdynia, Poland, September 20, 2013. On Friday 2012 Olympic champions Russia lost to Germany in three sets (20-25, 23-25, and 19-25) in the opening match of Pool D of the 2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship – Men, Final Round in the multipurpose venue “Hala Sportowo-Widowiskowa” in Gdynia. György Grozer of Germany topped all scorers with an impressive number of 21 points, followed by Russia’s Dmitry Muserskiy with 11. Bulgaria followed later in the evening edging the Czech Republic 3:1 (25-15, 25-18, 22-25, and 25-21) to start their European campaign with the right pace waiting to play Germany on Saturday.

Germany’s team captain Jochen Schöps was not nominated for the match as he was still struggling with an injured abdominal muscle. The first set started very well for the Germans, as they quickly jumped ahead to a five-point lead at the first technical time-out. The Russians managed to level the score at 13-13 thanks to powerful serves and spikes. Nevertheless, the Germans took control once again and with some impressive blocks and strong hits they proved their domination in the set picking it up 25-20.
In set 2 a neck-to-neck race unfolded right from the start as the Russians were determined to tie the overall score. The game remained on a very high level, both teams showed phenomenal actions in defense and great spikes, but the Germans were the ones to – once more – take the lead (16-13 at the second mandatory stop). Russia’s head coach Andrey Voronkov even changed liberos (Artem Ermakov replaced Alexey Verbov), but it did not make any difference, as the Germans stayed concentrated and took the set 25-23, setting the overall score at 2-0.
In the third set Germany scored six unanswered points after Russia’s initial leading at 3-1 and went to the first break with a four-point advantage. They stayed ahead throughout the set (16-11) and romped into victory (25-19) to cash a well-deserved 3:0 win.
Germany’s team captain Simon Tischer said during the press conference: “We are happy with the result, but I am not that surprised that we won. It is the result of our hard work, our great play in block and defense”.
The head coach of Russia, Andrey Voronkov, was definitely in a bad mood. “I don't want to mention anybody in particular – the entire team played very badly,” he said.

In the second match of the day Bulgaria scored a three-point victory over the Czech Republic (3:1; 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, and 25-21). Bulgaria's Tsvetan Sokolov topped all scorers with 19 points, followed by David Konecny of the Czech Republic with 18.
The first set started well for the Bulgarians, who quickly gained a four-point advantage, buoyed by their colorful fans gathered in the venue. They later increased the lead to seven points (13-6, then 16-9). Both teams struggled with their serve, but the Czechs had also troubles to spike with the right consistency, which gave the opponents the opportunity to jump even further ahead. Bulgaria easily won the set 25-15.
The Bulgarians kept the momentum from the previous set and stayed on top from the beginning of the next one. At 13-8 for the opponents, the Czech head coach Steward Bernard called time-out, but it did not help his team. They managed to get closer for a while, but the Bulgarians were better in every element of the game. They took the set 25-18 for a provisional 2:0 lead in sets.
The Czech Republic came back on court for the third set highly concentrated and this was reflected in the score – they jumped ahead to a seven-point leading at 7-0! They maintained this impressive advantage and Bulgaria's head coach Camillo Placi was forced to call a time-out at 10-3 for his opponents. It was clearly a time well spent for the team, as they later scored four consecutive points. Nevertheless, the Czechs remained in control, letting the opponents catch up only for a moment (19-18 for the Czech Republic) and then picked up the set 25-22 to stay in the match, setting the overall score at 1-2.
Set four started with a 180-degree turn – Bulgaria stormed out to a 6-0 lead. They maintained it throughout the set and were determined to end the game as quickly as possible. Bulgaria took the last set 25-21 and the entire match 3-1.
Stewart Bernard, head coach of the Czech Republic, mentioned the main problems of his team. “We had bad reception,” he said during the press conference. “Also we didn't get the points when we had great chances. We had a few moments, critical moments, where we should have scored, but we didn’t”.
The captain of Bulgaria, Todor Aleksiev wanted to remind his team of one important thing: “We can’t make a big mistake which we made today – when you win 2-0, you can’t let your guard down”.

On Saturday Germany will play against Bulgaria (3pm local time), while Russia will face the Czech Republic (6pm). 

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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