France completes clean sweep in Gdansk, Poland to play Bulgaria in next round
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men
Gdansk, Poland, September 22, 2013. On Sunday France completed their run in prelim Pool B of the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley with an impeccable record after scoring their third consecutive victory, this time edging Turkey 3:1 (25-21, 25-23, 18-25, and 25-23). With this result France cemented their leadership in the group thereby being promoted directly to the 1/4 finals scheduled for Wednesday while Turkey – after three straight defeats – is eliminated from the competition. Poland got back on track after losing to France on Saturday and by beating Slovakia 3:1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-19, and 25-22) finished the prelims in second place to play Bulgaria on Tuesday in the Playoffs. Slovakia was nevertheless happy with their third place and in two days will go for a mission impossible taking on Russia in the next round.
France’s head coach Laurent Tillie decided to use every single player on his roster but this did not prevent his side from cruising to a relatively comfortable victory. “The team needed to stay under pressure and so after reaching our goal, which was to win two sets, I decided to test some of our back-lines. It was a good chance for them to show what they are capable of even though they could not find the rhythm for quite some time” Tillie said after the game.
France set the pace of the game all the way through the opening set (8:7, 16:12) and eventually cashed it by the score of 25-21. The “Bleus” – anchored by Antonin Rouzier and Earvin Ngapeth – showed great composure also in the second set; Turkey’s head coach Emanuele Zanini asked for a break as his guys were trailing 16:20 and even though they could survive to three set balls for their opponents, France eventually finished it off at 25-23 with Ngapeth. Tillie started the third set with his second lines and this had an impact on the game with Turkey cruising to a speedy 25-18 paced by Kemal Elgaz. Turkey kept momentum also in the early phases of the second set (8:5) but France fought their way back with great spikes killed by Mory Sidibe. After a very close final rush, a block by Kevin Tillie sealed the final 25-23 and 3:1 for France.
Turkey’s Kemal Elgaz top scored in the game with 16 points while Ngapeth and Sidibe registered 15 and 13 for France respectively.
“My congratulations to France. We have to travel back home and hope we’ll perform much better in the next edition of the Championship” said Turkey captain Ulas Kiyak.
“It was not an easy game for my team because we were tired both mentally and physically after our clash with Poland on Saturday” said France’s team captain Benjamin Toniutti. “It is obviously important that we could win and we finish first in the group”.
“It was a strange match. Yesterday I was satisfied though we had lost to Slovakia in the end but today I am not happy at all. Maybe I need some more time to understand the mentality of Turkish players. Today we missed our last chance to stay alive in the competition and that’s all” said Emanuele Zanini.
“It was not easy for us to finish first in the group. Today we had no rhythm but still needed a victory. It was hard to reach this goal but the most important thing is that we finally made it” concluded Laurent Tillie.
Looking totally different than the night before as they had lost to France, and even though they missed many of their serves, Poland beat Slovakia 3:1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-19, and 25-22) to finish second in Pool B and play Bulgaria in the Playoffs coming up on Tuesday.
Slovakia’s head coach Stefan Chrtiansky decided to start the game with the second lines that had contributed to their victory on Saturday over Turkey, including Milan Bencz and Juraj Zatko. On the other side of the net, with the only exception being libero Pawel Zatorski, every single Polish player was towering above 200 cm. Not surprisingly Poland displayed a great performance in blocking especially with their captain Marcin Mozdzonek. Poland went up 21:17 and even though Slovakia drew level at 24, Bartosz Kurek sealed the final 26-24.
In the second set head coach Andrea Anastasi decided to change Michal Winiarski with another Michal, Kubiak. Even starting setter Lukasz Zygadlo was replaced by Fabian Drzyzga and after trailing 7:10, Poland reduced the gap to a minimum at 16:17. Slovakia still moved the score up to 20:17 and Frantisek Ogurcak finished it off for the guests at 25-20 for the 1:1 in sets.
Poland stormed out to a 9:7 and 13:8 lead in the third set, and eventually was able to keep that cushion (19:15) closing the set at 25-19. The hosts started the fourth set with a great run (6:1) and even though Slovakia fought their way back, Poland finished it at 25-22 for a well-deserved win.
Bartosz Kurek and Marcin Mozdzonek top scored in the end with 17 and 16 points while Bencz registered 15 for Slovakia, well supported by Matej Patak and Stefan Chrtiansky jr. with 12 apiece.
“After Turkey had lost to France we knew we were promoted to the next round but sadly tonight we lost and so we got to play Russia in the Playoffs, probably the toughest opponent you may get in this Championship” said Slovak captain Michal Masny. “We will nevertheless do our best to cause a sensation”.
“We are happy with this victory and especially for we have improved our game. We need to prepare well for our match with Bulgaria and do our best there” Mozdzonek commented.
“Tonight my players played for the very first time in such ambiance and before a large crowd of more than 10,000” Slovakia head coach Stefan Chrtiansky said. “It is a priceless experience especially for those who never played at the European Championship before. I am happy with what my players did tonight even if they did not win in the end, because they played good. Poland head coach surprised us by changing setter at the crucial moment of the game. We were a bit tired after a long game with Turkey and this resulted into many errors from our side”.
“Of course I am happy because we beat Slovakia after making some substitutions. I see that my team is progressing and I am happy with that. I am also satisfied that our second lines did perform so well tonight. They showed that they are as necessary as any player of the starting six” Andrea Anastasi commented.
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