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08/06/2013 23:00
Czech Republic and France complete the final lineup for the European Championship!
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Brno, Czech Republic - Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France, June 8, 2013.  The Czech Republic and France made it to the finals of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women after overcoming their third qualification round obstacles Romania and Ukraine respectively.  The Czechs achieved a 3:1 victory over visiting Romanians and with two wins in this duel ended up in Pool D in Schwerin, Germany, along with Bulgaria, Poland and Serbia.  France was able to overturn Ukraine’s advantage from the first leg with a 3:2 victory and then pleased the home crowd by winning the golden set.  It will have to face Belgium, Italy and hosts Switzerland in the battles of Pool B in Zurich.
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Czech Republic vs. Romania 3:1 (25-11, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22)
The Czech national team defeated Romania by 3:1 in Brno to earn its ticket to the continental finals.  23 points from Aneta Havlickova put her on the top of the scorers’ chart of the match while Nneka Onyejekwe was Romania’s most productive player with 12 points.
The Romanians won the first exchange in the match, but the Czech team took an 8-3 lead at the first technical time-out. After an attack by setter Lucy Mühlsteinová for 11-4, the Romanian coach Marian Constantin requested a time-out. With Michaela Monzoni behind the serving line, the great defense by the Czech team upped the score to 14-4.  The aggressive serving by the home team continued and led to the demolishing 25-11 at the end of the set.
The second set was again clearly under Czech control. The first technical time-out came at 8-4.  Strong serving by Andrea Kossányiová and good reception by Karolina Bednarova and Helena Havelková enlarged the gap to 5 points at the second technical time-out.  The Czech team closed the set with a successful block by Ivana Plchotová for the final 25-18.
The third set was much more balanced.  The Romanians quickly responded to a 2-point advantage for the Czechs and overturned it to 8-7 at the first technical time-out. At the second it was again a 2-point lead for the Czechs, but the Romanians stayed focused and fought on to take control at 22-21. Despite a time-out by Carlo Parisi, the Czech team failed to respond and after some serving errors lost the set.
In the fourth set, three times the home team managed to break away substantially in the score and three times Romania was able to come back before it was 19-19.  In a dramatic ending of the set, it was Aneta Havlickova that spiked successfully for the final 25-22 and 3:1.
Carlo Parisi, head coach of the Czech Republic: "The first two sets we played well while the opponent played poorly. In the third set we made ten unforced errors, so we deservedly lost it. The girls, however, fought and managed to end it in the fourth set."
Helena Havelkova, captain of the Czech Republic: "In the first two sets we served and attacked well. In the third set what happened was exactly what our coach warned us about. We began to try new things and the Romanians took advantage and we deservedly lost.  However, we won the fourth set and now we are enjoying the fact that we reach our goal.”
Marian Constantin, head coach of Romania: "It is not easy to come to the Czech Republic and win.  Although we clearly lost the first two sets, we played a good game here. The Czechs were the better team, deservedly won and I congratulate them for qualifying to the European Championship."
Luminita Trombitas, captain of Romania: "Without the pass one cannot compete in volleyball. Therefore, we in the first two sets we could not compete with the Czech team. Although in the next set of the match we improved our game won it, we failed to follow through, and we are sorry."
France vs. Ukraine 3:2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 15-8)
Golden Set 15-11

France will be part of the women’s European Championship for the fourth time in a row.  ”Les Bleues” got their ticket at home after beating Ukraine by 3-2 and then in the golden set.  Tetyana Kozlova tallied 21 points for Ukraine to become the best scorer after well beyond two hours of play.  Elizabeth Fedele was France’s top scorer with 19.
Having lost in Ukraine a week ago, the French players needed to win the second leg and then the golden set.  ”It is going to be tough, but playing a golden set at home would be a big advantage,” France’s head coach Fabrice Vial predicted a few days before the game.
For France, nothing has been easy. Ukraine made a better start, winning the first set by 25-20). But Christine Bauer and her teammates reacted perfectly, to tie the game after a 25-23 in the second set.  Then they took the lead after a strong and clean third set – 25-20.  Ukraine tied the game again after 25-18 in the fourth set, but the tie-breaker was a French affair – 15-8.
With one victory on each side, the spot for the 2013 European Championship had to be decided in a single set. ”A mind game,” Fabrice Vial said.  The set looked very uncertain until 6-6, but France took the lead to conclude it in a very impressive way – 15-11.
Fabrice Vial, head coach of France:  ”This is huge, we will go to the European Championship! We had some trouble to begin the game as the players were very nervous. But they fought hard to make an amazing performance. Astrid (Souply) and Elisabeth (Fedele) have been great. But do you realise they are both only 19!”
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