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07/09/2012 17:00
Romania claims top match with Croatia to delight home fans
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Piatra Neamt, Romania, September 7, 2012. Romania claimed the top match of the second round qualifier that is taking place in Piatra Neamt by edging Croatia 3:1 (25-12, 25-22, 20-25, and 26-24), a result that may turn decisive as these teams are fighting for the single spot at stake to make it to the final round of the 2013 European Championship.
Romania started well anchored by opposite Daiana Muresan who was supported by Denisa Rogojinaru along the way to an 8:4 lead at the first technical time-out. Croatia tried to respond with their opposite Sanja Popovic but still trailed 16:10 and could not stop the marvelous run of the home heroines who easily sailed to the final 25-12.
Romania stretched momentum to set 2 (8:7) and some high-class Volleyball, with long rallies, followed. Croatia moved to the front at the second mandatory stop (16:14) but Romania fought back with Elena Lapusneanu (Zaharia). By adding Jelena Alajbeg, Croatia tried to change the pace once more in the final rush of the set but this move was not that successful and Romania went for the provisional 2:0 (25-22).
Croatia caught a flying start in set 3 (8:4) and helped by Popovic and Mira Topic stretched that lead to 16:9. Home coach Atanas Petrov decided to call team captain Florentina Nedelcu but this did not change the course of the game with Croatia pocketing the final 25-20.
Romania lost composure also in the early phases of set 4 while Bernarda Brcic and Ivana Milos played superbly for Croatia that went to the front 16:12. However, some great play by Denisa Rogojinaru fired up Romania’s comeback and supported by the local fans, the home heroines eventually went for the 3:1 that was sealed by an attack of Lapusneanu (26-24).

After losing to Croatia on Thursday, Great Britain got back on track on the second day of action in Piatra Neamt by edging Portugal in three, straight sets (25-23, 25-22, and 30-28).
Great Britain started out well with a solid reception paving the way for the attacks killed by Rachel Bragg and Grace Carter. After leading 8:3, the Brits were confronted with the reaction of Portugal that came chiefly via Dulce Santos Machado and Nuria Lopes Da Silva. While Portugal stood out in blocking, Great Britain responded with the spikes of Bragg to make it 16:15 by the second mandatory stop and eventually proceeded with that same strategy to make it 25-23 in the end.
Portugal surprised Team GB in the second set, playing very solid in defense and attacking well with Lopes Da Silva finding regularly a way through the British block. Portugal went up 8:4 and 16:12 before Grace Carter took her side by the hand to reduce the gap and start an offensive that was joined by Rachel Bragg and eventually flipped the tables around, thereby contributing the final 25-22 and provisional 2:0.
Helped by opposite Joana Polido from the serving line, Portugal opened well also in set 3 (8:7) and stretched the margin up to three points by the second technical time-out. However, Bragg powered back Team GB and helped by the great actions of libero Maria Bertelli, the Brits got back their confidence and could finish it off after a very close final rush to claim the match in straight sets (30-28).

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