Zurich, Switzerland, September 10, 2013. Zurich’s EuroVolley 2013 quarterfinals will feature Belgium versus France and Serbia against Italy. In Tuesday’s playoff round, world No. 4 Italy proved too strong for Poland (25-22, 25-22, and 25-13) while France overcame the Czech Republic after an outstanding comeback (20-25, 9-25, 25-23, 25-23, and 20-18).
The Italians answered the critics of their home press with a straight-set win (25-22, 25-22, and 25-13) over Poland at the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women. The Polish squad could not deal with Italy’s power and organization, thus never finding their way into the game. Italy’s Valentina Diouf and Carolina Costagrande scored 15 points each while Maja Tokarska booked 10 kills for Poland.
After their pool defeat versus Belgium, Italy felt a lot of pressure for today’s playoff match versus Poland. There was nothing to separate the two teams early in the much-awaited duel. The Azzurre led 8-6 at the first technical time-out. Wing-spiker Carolina Costagrande hammered the Mikasa down from back-row to make it 14-8 for Italy. As their reception became better, Poland shortened the deficit to two points at 21-23. However, it was not good enough. Italy proved their coolness and experience, closing out the first set 25-22 in their favour.
It seemed as Piotr Makowski found the right words between the two sets. The young Polish team jumped out for an 8-4 lead. Nevertheless, Italy came back into the game after a clear speech by head coach Marco Mencarelli. Poland struggled with their reception and consequently the wing spikers could not put enough pressure on the opponent’s defence. Makowski tried to wake up his players by taking two time-outs. The Azzurre led 23-16 until Poland scored five consecutive points to come back bravely. However, Italy’s middle-blocker Valentina Arrighetti stopped the Polish rush with an impressive block winner and the Italians never looked back.
The pressure on the Polish players increased in the third set. Piotr Makowski’s team needed a quick reaction. Nevertheless, Marco Mencarelli’s players kept the pace on a very high level. At 5-12, Makowski called his players for the second time off court for a serious discussion. It did not help as the Italian express was unstoppable now. The Azzurre sailed to an undisputed 25-13 set and 3:0 match win, showing great character after their disappointing performance versus Belgium two days before.
Poland captain Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska-Dolata: “I wish I could say what went wrong today, but I don’t know why we experienced so many problems. You can lose when you fight, but we did not.”
Italy middle-blocker Valentina Arrighetti: “We needed a strong reaction after our loss against Belgium. I am sure everybody saw our answer tonight. I am happy with the performance of our team. This win was the result of a good job by the whole team.”
Poland head coach Piotr Makowski: “We played a very bad game today. We have a big mental problem in important games as other Polish teams in other sports have. We’ll need to analyse the reasons for our elimination.”
Italy head coach Marco Mencarelli: “That was our best game so far at EuroVolley 2013. The Italian media observed our performance. The critics were fair. We could not be satisfied with our performance before. That is the reason why I do not read the newspapers during a tournament. My wife does, but luckily she never tells me what they say.”
France send the Czech Republic home
France defeated the Czech Republic in a dramatic five-set thriller 20-25, 9-25, 25-23, 25-23, 20-18. Two sets down, the team of head coach Fabrice Vial saved four match balls before seizing their second chance to conclude the hard-fought duel 20-18 in their favour.
There was not much to separate the two teams early in this much-awaited duel at Hallenstadion. However, the Czechs, who committed only one fault in the first set, led 16-14 at the second technical time-out. French head coach Fabrice Vial sent in Leyla Tuifua and Mallory Steux. It helped as France improved their offensive game and came closer towards the end of the opening set. Still, it was not good enough. The Czech Republic ended the first set 25-20 in their favour.
“Les Bleues” quickly needed new ideas to catch up with their strong opponents from Central Europe. However, the team of Carlo Parisi was perfectly prepared for tonight’s game. Nine blocks in two sets were the proof for an excellent game plan. It was a demonstration of precision and speed with the young Czech team leading 8-2 and 16-4 at the two technical time-outs. Vial replaced captain Anna Rybaczewski and Christina Bauer, but it did not help. After 45 minutes, the Czech Republic cruised to an undisputed 25-9 set win and led in no uncertain manner 2:0.
The story of the match did not change in the beginning of the third set. The Czech team kept the upper hand by brilliant teamwork anchored by captain Aneta Havlickova on fire (17 points in three sets). However, a 20-13 lead was not enough for the Czechs to conclude. France bounced back bravely with a six-point rush to reduce the gap to one point at 19-20. The French servers put a lot of pressure on young Czech receiver Andrea Kossanyiova to turn tables at the end of the third set (25-23).
France, with more confidence after the unexpected set win, kept momentum in the fourth set. On the other side, the Czechs could not tie in with their excellent performance in the first two and a half sets. France led 8-5 and 16-12 at the technical time-outs and needed two more points at 23-19 for their set win. Even though the Czechs bounced back to 22-23, Christina Bauer and Myriam Kloster closed it out for France. The Czech Republic had tripled their errors from three in the first two sets to ten in set three and four.
It seemed as Alfred Hitchcock was the author of the fifth and deciding set. Both teams showed great fighting spirit and neither France nor the Czech Republic were able to extend their lead to more than one point. At 14-13, the Parisi team had their first match point, but could not conclude. It was now a unique battle of the two number 4’s, Aneta Havlickova and Christina Bauer. Bauer saved three other Czech match balls before Havlickova sent the Mikasa long, bouncing the French team in heaven.
France middle-blocker Christina Bauer: “This game against the Czechs was a roller coaster of emotions. There were these two awful sets and then we completely changed. We played much more aggressively. It was an incredible game for us. I’m certainly happy about my personal performance, but even more that I could help my team in this situation by tying the game after four Czech match balls.”
France head coach Fabrice Vial: “We showed a terrible face in the beginning. I tried to find solutions and keeping the players in the match. I think the change happened primarily in our head. When we were trailing 13-20 in the third set, I told my girls that we could not lose like this. We wanted to qualify for the quarterfinals and we had not the right to leave the court like that.”
Czech Republic head coach Carlo Parisi: “We had a big opportunity. We were that close to win. However, we were punished hard at the end for not having put an end to the game in the third set. When you give your opponent a chance to bounce back, they find their way back into the game. Turnovers like tonight are the consequence. We will not talk about this loss tonight. Every player has to think about it by herself. We have to learn by this loss.”
Czech Republic captain Aneta Havlickova: “Maybe we thought the match was already over at 20-13 in the third set. We tried to find explanations. Then we felt our energy going down. We had a tough pool in the preliminary phase. Probably we paid for that tonight. At the end, we could not mobilize the power we needed for an exploit in the tiebreak.”
Germany v Croatia
The first ranked teams of each pool were directly qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women, while the second and third ranked teams fought for the last four quarterfinal tickets. After the playoff round on Tuesday, EuroVolley 2013 continue with eight teams battling for the four semi-final spots.
Russia v Turkey
Belgium v France
Serbia v Italy
For the first time in history, 140 countries with all five continents involved cover the Women's EuroVolley. A detailed TV schedule is attached here below.
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.