Berlin, Germany, September 13, 2013. In front of 7.137 delighted fans in Berlin’s Max-Schmeling-Halle, Germany proved too strong for Belgium to book their hard-earned ticket for Saturday’s gold medal duel versus Russia. Two sets down, the German ladies made an outstanding comeback in Friday’s semi-final of EuroVolley 2013 to bounce a whole nation in heaven. It was a revival of the 2013 Volleyball European League final where Germany had won 3:2 as well. The final match - see the TV schedule attached here below - will be broadcast live by as many as 29 TV stations.
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“We will meet in Berlin”, said German head coach Giovanni Guidetti to his colleague Gert Vande Broek after the 2013 CEV Volleyball European League final in July. It became reality as the two squads met tonight in Berlin’s Max-Schmeling-Halle for the much-awaited second semi-final of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women.
The guests from Belgium jumped out for an early 4-1 lead but were quickly caught up by a spirited German team. Captain Margareta Kozuch drew level at 7-7 with a blistering service winner. The Belgians responded with sharp serves on the German passers, mainly on Heike Beier. At the second technical timeout, Belgium led 16-13. There was not much to separate the two teams at that stage of the thrilling duel. The 7.137 fans pushed the home team with tremendous applause, but could not stop the persuading Belgian attackers. Hélène Rousseaux scored five times in the first set; captain Charlotte Leys, Freya Aelbrecht and Lise Van Hecke helped their team with four kills each. At 16-21, Guidetti called his ladies off court to give new instructions. It did not help as the “yellow tigers” continued their run. With a well-timed tip, setter Frauke Dirickx brought up set point at 24-17. Kozuch saved one with a hammer from the right. However, Denise Hanke served long to offer Belgium a well-deserved 1:0 set lead.
Both teams had struggled with their reception in the first set (35% positive receptions for Germany, 31% for Belgium), but compared to Germany, the Belgian squad had an excellent offense with 56% positive attacks (the hosts had only 36%). It seemed as Germany felt the pressure on their shoulders in the beginning of tonight’s duel. However, at the first technical break of the second set, the brave German ladies had turned the tables (8-6). Trailing 14-18, Vande Broek asked for a time-out and, two rallies later, sent in Ilka Van de Vyver for serving. It was the turning point of the set. Van de Vyver served eight times in a row to turn the score around again. Guidetti asked for two timeouts, but could not help his players until 20-23. Maren Brinker stopped the Belgium run with a missile from the left, but it was already too late. Two Aelbrecht winners finished the second set in Belgium’s favour (25-20). With 24% positive attacking, Germany was far away from their usual efficiency.
The hosts needed a quick reaction in the beginning of the third set to keep their hopes for a comeback alive. It was a tough battle now with both teams experiencing many ups and downs. At the second technical timeout, Belgium led by one point, 16-15. Led by extraordinary setter Frauke Dirickx, the “yellow tigers” opened the gap to two points at 18-16. Germany answered with a three-point run to regain momentum at 19-18. Van Hecke smashed long at 21-23 to offer Germany a two-point lead. Kozuch rapidly took advantage of it by bringing up set point for Germany with a scorching winner from back row. Another spiking mistake by slightly injured Van Hecke brought the hosts back on track. The Guidetti squad had increased their offensive game to 41% in the third set.
Even though the host came back strongly in the end of the third set, their game was still too instable. Belgium quickly regained control of the match in the fourth set, forcing Guidetti to call a timeout at 5-10. The Belgium defense players made tremendous saves and top scorer Van Hecke bounced back with some impressive strikes at the net. However, Germany gradually reduced the gap with better serving and improved defensive play. Maren Brinker hammered for a 20-19 German lead but Rousseaux immediately drew level one rally later. It was a roller coaster of emotions in Berlin’s Max-Schmeling-Halle with both teams displaying great fighting spirit at that moment of the match. Germany kept the upper hand in the deciding moments of the fourth set, moving tonight’s semi-final thriller in the fifth and deciding set. Compared to the previous sets, Belgium had committed more mistakes in the fourth (9).
There was still not much to separate the two teams early in the fifth set. Belgium led 8-7 at changeover but Germany retook control two rallies later (9-8). It was probably the key moment of the match. The hosts rushed to an amazing finish with a 6-3 run to bounce the 7.137 fans in heaven. After 134 minutes of tough battle, Heike Beier ended the marathon match with a blistering winner from the left.
Margareta Kozuch was the best scorer of the match with 24 points. Lise Van Hecke booked 21 kills for Belgium.
With tonight’s win, Germany qualified for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship in Italy.
Belgium captain Charlotte Leys: “Congratulations to Germany. They showed great fighting spirit. Two sets down, they took much more risk in serving. It was one of the key factors for their triumph tonight. I feel disappointed. Nevertheless, tomorrow we will have a second chance for a medal.”
Germany captain Margareta Kozuch: “Belgium played a great game, congratulations! I am very proud of my teammates. Only a very special team can turn the tables like we did tonight.”
Belgium coach Gert Vande Broek: “During two and a half set, we were very close to victory. However, Germany deserve the win. They took a lot of risk in the deciding moments of the match. I am sure the fans enjoyed tonight’s match. I have not seen all the matches of EuroVolley 2013, but I am sure it was one of the best matches so far. I am very proud of my players. Belgium has become a strong team in Europe.”
Germany head coach Giovanni Guidetti: “It is an amazing feeling. We won against a very strong team tonight. Congratulations to my players; even in the most difficult moments of the match they never gave up. Moreover, it was a victory for the supporters. More than 7.000 fans pushed us beyond our limits. Thanks to them we managed to make an incredible comeback.”
Final matches (Max-Schmeling-Halle Berlin):
Saturday, 17.00 (local time) – bronze medal match: Serbia v Belgium
The winner of the CEV Volleyball European Championship will qualify for the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup featuring a total of six teams per gender with the hosts Japan being joined by the continental winners from Asia, Europe, NORCECA and South America with an additional country selected by the FIVB.
Saturday, 20.00 (local time) – gold medal match: Russia v Germany
The two best-ranked teams of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women as well as organizer Italy will qualify for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship.
The five best-ranked teams of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women as well as the organizers from Belgium and the Netherlands will qualify for the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women.
Final Ranking of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
9. The Netherlands
10. The Czech Republic
CEV Volleyball European Championship – Women
2011 in Italy/Serbia: Serbia (gold), Germany (silver), Turkey (bronze)
Records of the last five editions
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
1. Russia (17/4/3)
All-time medal table (Gold/Silver/Bronze)
2. Germany (2/5/3) *including GDR
3. Poland (2/4/5)
4. Italy (2/2/2)
5. Czech Republic (1/4/4)
6. The Netherlands (1/2/1)
7. Serbia (1/1/1)
8. Bulgaria (1/0/2)
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).
For further information visit www.eurovolley2013.org and www.cev.lu for a detailed match schedule of the final four.