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06/09/2013 23:45
Italy make short work of local heroines, Belgium beat France 3:1
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Zurich, Switzerland, September 6, 2013. Italy made short work of the home squad from Switzerland by beating the local heroines in straight sets (25-13, 25-11, 25-13). 3.500 spectators saw a quick opening game of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women in Zurich. In today’s second Pool B duel, Belgium booked an important 3:1 win (22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17) against France.

Italy made short work of Switzerland by outclassing the home squad in straight sets (25-13, 25-11, 25-13). Best scorer of the match was Italy’s Valentina Diouf with 18 points. Best scorer for Switzerland was Laura Unternährer with 10 kills.

Svetlana Ilic’s Swiss team did not start with their usual formation and tried to confuse Italy by this move. Nevertheless, the favourite Italians were not impressed at all and booked some remarkable points with outside hitter Carolina Costagrande. The "Azzurre" quickly built up a 6-2 lead. The Swiss tried to stop the Italian offense by an aggressive block system and shortened the deficit. However, the Italians took completely control by an impressive show of Valentina Diouf. Switzerland were without any chance at this moment. The 13-25 loss of the first set was the logical consequence.

Swiss head coach Svetlana Ilic sent in Laura Unternährer, setter Kristel Marbach and Mandy Wigger for the second set. However, in-form Martina Guiggi showed her qualities at the net to give Switzerland a hard time. The Swiss committed too many errors in this period of the game while Italy took advantage of the opponents’ weakness and increased their lead easily (15-4). The Swiss players found their way back into the game by better offensive plays later on, but could not catch up. Italy's Caterina Chiara Bosetti ended the second set in Italy’s favor with an amazing block at 25-11.

In the beginning of the third set, the Italians were still the better team. Switzerland’s wing-spiker Laura Unternährer brought her team back on track with three consecutive hammers. However, trailing 9-14, Ilic called her ladies off court for a serious chat. It did not help, as the hosts did not found a solution for a comeback. The Italians were too dominant at the net and well organized in defense. They showed no mercy and never looked back for a well-deserved 3:0 win.

Switzerland head coach Svetlana Ilic: “We definitely have to serve better in the next games. You cannot serve on that low level against strong teams with strong reception. Our serves have to be more constant and sharper.”

Italy head coach Marco Mencarelli: “We didn’t care about the changes in the formation of the Swiss team. We knew all Swiss players quite well except of Elena Steinemann. The Swiss had maybe more problems in their game than we had expected. On our side, we need to find more consistency in our game and improve our block system.”

Belgium prove too strong for France

Belgium booked an important 3:1 win (22-25, 25-19, 25-17, and 25-17) against neighbor France in Pool B’s second game of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women in Zurich. France could build on wing-spikers Hélène Schleck and Elisabeth Fedele with 13 kills each. Lise Van Hecke and Els Vandesteene made the difference for Belgium with 12 points each.

Matches between neighbors are always special, even more when a win can be very important for the qualification for the quarterfinals of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. The game between France and Belgium had everything needed for an exciting fixture. In the first set, the teams fought on the same level. Consequently, the 3.000 spectators saw long and intensive rallies. Elisabeth Fedele did an important job for the French with her strong serves and her attacks from the back-row. However, the Belgians on the other side answered with fast attacks by wing-spiker Els Vandesteene. Neither France nor Belgium got a clear lead until Christina Bauer booked an important block winner at 25-22 to offer her teammates a hard-earned 1:0 set lead.

The Belgians had to find an answer in the second set in order to prevent too much pressure by the score. Gert Vande Broek’s team found their way into the game and set the pace right from the beginning. Fabrice Vial’s players felt more pressure now and had to react if they wanted to stop Belgium’s rush. They did not succeed as Belgium’s middle-blockers Laura Heyrman and Freya Aelbrecht showed up with impressive work at the net. Belgium rapidly tied the game with a 25-22 set win.

After a tough fight in the very beginning of the third set, Belgium took the lead by aggressive offensive plays and well placed smashes. The Belgian wing-spiker Laura Heyrman found holes in the French defence and scored several times. Gert Vande Broek’s players continuously increased their lead and Vial was forced to call a timeout at 11-17. It seemed as the French head coach was not satisfied at all with the performance of his players and Belgium sailed to an undisputed 25-17 set win.

The Belgians kept momentum in the fourth set. The rallies became longer, but the French were obliged to focus more on defence work than on offensive plays. The French player did their best to catch up, but Belgium was too strong. The Belgians got a comfortable eight-point lead until 19-11. France could shorten the deficit to 13-19. Nevertheless, after Gert Vande Broek’s timeout, Belgium took back control with Frauke Dirickx closing out the match at 25-17 in the fourth set.

France head coach Fabrice Vial: “I want to congratulate Gert and his team for the win. Belgium played better than we did. We committed too many errors and must change this immediately; otherwise it will be hard for us in the tournament.”

Belgium head coach Gert Vande Broek: “We played with a good speed tonight. We changed our game plan during the game and it worked. We feel some pressure from our fans as our team got the second place in European League.”

The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women is split into four pools of four teams with the top three from each pool advancing to the next competition stage. The first ranked teams of each pool are directly qualified for the quarterfinals, while the second and third ranked teams will fight for the last four quarterfinal tickets

For the first time in history, 130 countries with all five continents involved cover the Women's EuroVolley.

CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
Records of the last five editions

2011 in Italy/Serbia: Serbia (gold), Germany (silver), Turkey (bronze)
2009 in Poland: Italy (gold), the Netherlands (silver), Poland (bronze)
2007 in Belgium/Luxembourg: Italy (gold), Serbia (silver), Russia (bronze)
2005 in Croatia: Poland (gold), Italy (silver), Russia (bronze)
2003 in Turkey: Poland (gold), Turkey (silver), Germany (bronze)

CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
All-time medal table

1. Russia (17 gold / 4 silver / 3 bronze), 2. Poland (2/4/5), 3. Germany (2/5/3), 4. Italy (2/2/2), 5. The Czech Republic (1/4/4), 6. The Netherlands (1/2/1), 7. Bulgaria (1/0/2), 8. Serbia (1/1/1), 9. Croatia (0/3/0), 10. Hungary (0/1/3), 11. Turkey (0/1/1), 12. Romania (0/0/1). 12. Ukraine (0/0/1).

World Ranking – Women (participating teams)

4. Italy, 6. Russia, 7. Serbia, 9. Germany, 11. Turkey, 13. Poland, 18. The Netherlands, 22. The Czech Republic, 31. Croatia, 31. Bulgaria, 36. Azerbaijan, 39. Belgium, 39. Belarus, 42. Spain, 42. France, 109. Switzerland.

For further information visit the official website or click here for a detailed match schedule of the prelims.

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