Schwerin, Germany, September 8, 2013. The Czech Republic booked their playoff round ticket with a hard earned five-set win over Bulgaria (14-25, 25-20, 29-31, 25-19, and 15-11). Defending champions Serbia finished on top of Pool D, thus advancing to the quarterfinals. The team of head coach Zoran Terzic proved too strong for Poland (25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21).
The Czech Republic beat Bulgaria in a five-set thriller 3:2 (14-25, 25-20, 29-31, 25-19, 15-11) to book their play-off spot in extremis. In front of 1.319 spectators at “Sport- und Kongresshalle” in Schwerin, the Czech Republic was the more fortunate of two bravely fighting teams. Player of the 2 hours and 14 minutes clash was Czech captain Aneta Havlickova with 33 points including 9 break points.
Bulgaria started well with great blocking taking an early 8-2 lead at the first technical time-out. The Czech team did not find an answer to the quick and variable game by the Bulgarians who led by 8 points at the second technical break. With tremendous effort and superb defensive play, Bulgaria took the set 25-14 with Elitsa Vasileva contributing 6 points.
In the second set, the team of Marcello Abbondanza continued its run, dominating in most aspects of the game (8-4). However, the Czech ladies levelled the game in the middle of the set with a five-point rush, displaying great spirit to overcome the deception of the first set. The score stayed close until Carlo Parisi's team gained momentum late in the set with a five-point flash to end it 25-20 in their favour. Dominating player for the Czechs was captain Aneta Havlickova with 10 points.
Both teams acted very concentrated throughout the third set. No team was able to open the gap to more than two points. Bulgaria showed more cleverness in the end grabbing the set with their fifth set point (31-29).
After an exhausting third set, the Czech team came out more aggressively to take a well-deserved 16-9 lead at the second technical break of the fourth set. The Czech players had found their rhythm with great defensive play. Parisi’s squad tied the match with their second set point at 25-19.
Bulgaria experienced the better start into the fifth and deciding set taking an early 5-1 lead after long rallies and exhausting defensive play. Nevertheless, the Czech Republic managed to bounce back with great moral to draw level at 8-8. It was the key point of the match: the Czechs kept control and never looked back (15-11).
Bulgaria captain Strashimira Filipova: “The Czech team used every chance they got to score. They simply offered a better game in the important moments. I’m very disappointed now because we didn’t play at our best today.”
Czech Republic captain Aneta Havlickova: “This match was very difficult for us, especially in the first set. In the second set we made less mistakes and that is when we could turn the game to our advantage.”
Bulgaria head coach Marcello Abbondanza: “Of course I’m very sad about our loss today, but in sports the better team wins the game. Our problem was not a technical or conditional one, it was our loss of concentration that lead to our loss. My team played well in this last three days considering the high level of Volleyball that is played in this tournament. We did a good job in the beginning by winning against Serbia.”
Czech Republic head coach Carlo Parisi: “I’m very happy about our victory today, especially because this was a do-or-die game. You could actually feel the tension on the court on both sides. Both teams were desperate to win. The reason why we beat the Bulgarian team is that we played our best level today.”
Serbia overcome Poland to advance to the quarterfinals
Championship favourite Serbia beat a good Polish team in four sets (25-18, 25-18, 22-25, and 25-21) to finish first in Pool D. In front of 1.622 spectators, Serbia played very concentrated and thus advanced to the quarterfinals. The best player for Serbia was opposite Jovana Brakocevic scoring 24 points including 11 break points.
Serbia started the first set with enormous determination leading quickly 5-2 against a nervous Polish team. Zoran Terzic' ladies increased their lead to five points until the second technical time-out displaying tremendous organization against a struggling Polish team (11-16). Serbia never let down and took the first set after a five-point run in the end 25-18. Serbian key player Jovana Brakocevic stood out with 6 points.
In the beginning of the second set, Serbia continued to dominate the game with their powerful wing-spikers. However, Poland now showed why Serbian coach Terzic had great respect for the Polish squad prior to the game. Poland acted with more assertiveness and were able to close the gap to one point (6-7). Serbia managed to hold off Poland within a gap of four points by concentrated and forceful play. In the end, Poland did not find an answer to overcome the Serbian pressure (18-25).
Serbia kept control of the match carrying a two-point lead throughout the first half of the third set (10-12). However, Poland, carried by hundreds of fans, showed great team spirit and managed to grab the lead at 14-13. Poland now played their best Volleyball and extended the lead to four points at 21-17. Under standing ovations by the Polish crowd, the Poles finally won the set in heroic fashion (25-22). Top player for Poland was Kinga Kasprzak with 7 points moving her team to another level at that stage of the match.
Serbia took charge again at the beginning of set four before the Polish girls turned tables at the first technical timeout (8-7). Serbia reacted quickly using a five-point run to retake the lead at 15-10. Serbia used all their experience to pull through (25-21) and thus finishing the preliminary round on top of Pool D.
Poland captain Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska-Dolata: “Today was not an easy game for us. After a good game, we always play a bad one right after it. Nonetheless we are still in the tournament and try to reach the next round.”
Serbia captain Maja Ognjenovic: “It is always a pleasure to play against Poland. Today we finally started to play as good as we can. Since we arrived first in our pool, we have two days now to recover and to prepare for the next match.”
Poland head coach Piotr Makowski: “Congratulations to the Serbian team. Our game tonight was neither good nor bad. In the third set we finally got into the game and started to play as good as we can. We still have a chance to reach the next round by beating Italy in our next match.”
Serbia head coach Zoran Terzic: “Both teams played very well tonight but I want to congratulate especially my players. We must be satisfied with our game today, now we have to prepare for the quarterfinals".
The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women was 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)
CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
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)
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 playoff round.