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20/09/2013 20:00
Italy and Belgium impose their rule on opening day in Odense
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men

Odense, Denmark, September 20, 2013. Italy and Belgium lived up to the expectations as they claimed their respective opening matches at EuroVolley 2013 in Odense. The bronze medallists from the London Olympics and this year’s World League could resist to a spirited home side since Denmark had got off to a flying start as the local fans had created a great atmosphere at Arena Fyn. However, Italy could gradually impose their quality and eventually cruised to a well-deserved straight win (25-22, 25-17, and 25-15). Belgium also caught a very promising start of their European campaign as they downed Belarus in straight sets (25-22, 25-20, and 25-16) to open the operations in prelim Pool A waiting to play Denmark on Saturday.    

Actually Belarus caught a good start setting the pace of the game in the first set and moving up 8:7 and 16:14 at the first and second mandatory stop. However, as soon as the so-called “Red Dragons” found their pace and their block started to work as planned, Belgium fought back, drew level at 21 and wrapped it up at 25-22. Belgium dictated the tempo of the game also in the second set (8:6) but Belarus clawed back and turned the charts around going up 12:10. Still Belgium was capable of firing back, levelled at 13 and from there controlled the game with ease for the provisional 2:0 (25-20). The third set was some kind of a walk-over for the gold medallists of the 2013 European League and even though Belarus scored some more points as Belgium relaxed a bit, the final score (25-16) reflected the one-sided development of that set.
“The first set determined the outcome of the match. Belarus played very strong and showed their great physical skills. We were quite nervous in the beginning of the match, but we kept on fighting and when we evened the score, the team found some extra energy and showed the great play we have displayed in European League” said Belgium mentor Dominique Baeyens.
“First of all we are very happy that we are in our first European Championship ever! It’s an honour for us to play here” said Belarus team captain Oleg Mikanovich. “We started out good and showed that we deserve to be here. But then Belgium fought their way back and started playing fantastic Volleyball. Their setter Frank Depestele was amazing, and we could have had a chance to win, if he hadn’t been on the court today”.  

With 3,400 fans in attendance at Arena Fyn Italy downed the home guys of Denmark in straight sets (25-22, 25-17, and 25-15) to start their quest for another medal with the right pace. Denmark was playing their first European Championship final round game in 42 years and wanted to show they did deserve to be here. The home side started out strong (3:0) but the bronze medallists from the London Olympics responded quite promptly taking the lead for the first time at 8:7. Though the home fans had created a very nice ambiance at Arena Fyn, the guys mentored by Mauro Berruto did not bother that much and could stand the fierce resistance by the Danes to claim the opening set at 25-22. Denmark got off to a flying start also in the second set but Italy fired back to move to the front at the first mandatory stop as it had done in the first set (8:7). Italy gradually found their best game and cruised quickly to a relatively comfortable 25-17. The third set was a carbon copy of those that Italy had claimed before with an early 8:7 lead and the bronze medallists from this year’s World League confirming their ambition to go for gold with Ivan Zaytsev scoring the last point at 25-15.
“I think we came out and had a great start at the match, which surprised Italy a bit. The team was clearly excited and the fantastic support from the home crowd here in Odense gave wings to my players. A big thanks to the fans, who made this a fantastic experience for all, I think. As the match developed Italy showed their great stability and did not let us have any scoring streaks. No doubt that they are a title contestant” said Denmark mentor Fred Sturm.
“Denmark started really good and surprised us a little bit in the beginning” said Italy team captain Cristian Savani. “No doubt that the home crowd set them on fire, something that could be seen on the court. Many have asked us about the finals in Copenhagen already, but we take it step by step. We only have very few hours before we play Belarus tomorrow, so we focus on that match first”.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the matches

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