Spain qualifies for semis as Bulgaria completes incredible comeback to edge Turkey
2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship - Men
Randers, Denmark, August 28, 2012. After prolonging their winning streak to four matches by edging Denmark in straight sets, Spain booked on Tuesday a spot for the semis of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship. Bulgaria and Turkey put up a terrific fight where the group around opposite Ivan Ivanov stormed back from two sets down, survived a total of three match balls – including two in set 3 – before going for a 3-2 win that may open the door to the semis to the heirs of the guys who won silver two years ago in Bobruisk. In the last match of the day Germany beat Greece 3:2 to claim their first win in the tournament and keep alive their chances to progress to the classification matches 5-8. The final standings of the group will be determined on Wednesday as Spain and Bulgaria play for the leadership in the group, Turkey has a last call for the semis while taking on Greece and Germany rounds out the program with the hosts of Denmark.
Spain is the first semifinalist of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Men after the group mentored by coach Ricardo Maldonado scored on Tuesday a fourth consecutive win in preliminary Pool II to down the hosts of Denmark in straight sets (25-20, 25-15, and 25-19). With this result Spain did pocket their pass for the last and deciding act of the competition coming up later this weekend in Gdynia.
The Danes enjoyed tremendous support from school students who filled up the Skyline Arena by contributing energy and a great atmosphere, but this was not enough to stop the run of last year’s silver medalists from the FIVB Youth World Championship.
The audience witnessed a close encounter in the first set. Many great rallies and high-class Volleyball helped Spain move to the front at the first technical time-out 8:6 at and 16:12 by the second. Danish captain Peter Trolle Bonnesen again proved to be a danger against any team, but he could not deny Spain winning the first set 25-20.
In the second set the Danish team seemed a bit tired. Spain found their way through the Danish blocks and was in front 16:7 by the second technical time-out. The Spaniards just accelerated the pace and legitimated their leadership in the group cruising to a speedy 25-15.
In the third set the Danish team was able to step up once more. Danish head coach Fred Sturm chose to put middle-blocker Christian Tang-Jensen on the court and he scored several points for the Danes who were in front 8:5 by the first technical time-out. Then Spain flipped the tables around by the second technical time-out (16:13) and finally closed it 25-19.
Andres J. Villena became the best player of the game for the fourth time in the tournament with 16 points today which bring him to a massive total of 100 points. “It was an important match for us. We needed to it to make to the semi-final. We started strong. Our serve was good and our reception too. In the third set we got a bit nervous and made mistakes that could have cost us the set. I am glad with the win” said the Spanish opposite.
The second match of the day between Bulgaria and Turkey was played at an extremely high intensity as both teams were fighting for a spot in the semis. Bulgaria was down 0-2 but showed incredible fighting spirit to eventually claim this drama with the score of 3-2 (22-25, 22-25, 28-26, 27-25, and 17-15), after surviving two match balls for their opponents in set 3 plus one in the tie-break, and be currently ranked second in the group.
The Turks caught a good start in the first set and led 8:5 by the first technical time-out and 16:10 by the second. Both teams served cannon balls but on the other side of the net the reception was at an equally high level. Turkey took a time-out as Bulgaria made three points in a row reducing the Turkish lead to 22:24, but a too long Bulgarian serve closed the set (22-25).
The Bulgarian team started best in the second set leading 8:6 by the first technical time-out. Then Turkey turned the set over with a strong team performance and a lot of shouting and led 16:12 by the second technical time-out. Turkey had a 20:16 lead, but Bulgaria showed strong morale and leveled the set at 20:20. Turkey did not let Bulgaria take the lead, and the second set ended as a copy of the first: 25-22 to Turkey.
The Bulgarian team seemed to be determined not to lose the third set and was in front 8:5 by the first technical time-out and 16:10 by the second. A massive serving pressure from Turkey leveled the set at 21:21 before two serves out of the court made it 22:22. Bulgaria survived two Turkish match balls (24:25 and 25:26) before closing the set 28-26.
Bulgaria kept the upper hand in the beginning of the fourth set leading 8:4 by the first technical time-out and 16:13 by the second. The tough Turks leveled the set at 23:23. Turkey survived two set points (24:23 and 25:24) before Bulgaria won the set 27-25 sending the match to the tie-break.
A tight tie-break was the only proper finale to this fantastic fight. All level at 5:5 Bulgaria made three points in a row with good serves from wing-spiker Radoslav Popov before the teams changed sides. Bulgaria was in front 11:7 before Turkey leveled the count at 13:13 in this amazing drama. Turkey had a match point at 14:13, but Bulgaria survived once more and got to the front 16:15 and won the tiebreak 17-15 and the match 3-2.
Head coach Miroslav Zhivkov: “I am emotionally tired. The game had a lot of changes. We started really nervous where the Turks on the other hand were very precise and motivated. I do not know exactly what happened, but I am very glad things changed around so we could come back in the game. In the tie-break both teams could win, but I am really glad we did”.
Bulgarian opposite Ivan Ivanov made 19 points in the match: “I am very tired. I did not play so well today, but I gave all the power so the team could win. I am really grateful for the team’s performance. Everybody gave everything. Tomorrow we have to play better to beat Spain so we can make it to the semifinals”.
In the last match of the day in Randers, Germany needed a win to keep their hopes of a spot in the Playoffs alive. Their opponent on the other side of the net was Greece that was the direct competitor for that spot in the next round being ranked fourth in the group. The second tie-break of the day was needed before Germany could cash the final 3-2 (25-20, 19-25, 20-25, 25-17, and 15-11) and their first win in the tournament.
In the first set Greece was in front 8:7 at the first technical time-out. Then Germany made four points in a row, got the upper hand and led 16:14 by the second. The Greek team fought hard and the set was still close at 20:22 to Germany before the Germans closed it 25-20.
The second set was close too. Greece was in front 8:6 at the first technical time-out and 16:13 at the second. Germany was not sharp enough when they had the chance to move ahead while Greece on the other hand seemed determined to level the match and won the set 25-19.
The tense match was tight again in the third set where Germany led 8:7 at the first technical time-out, but a sublime Greek block leveled the set at 12:12 and Greece was in front 16:15 by the second technical time-out. A serve by wing-spiker Menelaos Kokkinakis closed the set 25-20 to Greece.
Germany found back their best play in the beginning of the fourth set and was in front 8:4 at the first technical time-out and 16:9 by the second. Their serve was a lot stronger than in the previous sets and they deservedly won the set as clear as 25-17.
In the tie-break the Germans seemed to have the mental upper hand after their fourth set win. They quickly got a little gap down to Greece and led 8:5 when the teams changed sides. Germany came at 10:5, but the Greeks found some hidden reserves, made four points in a row and reduced the German lead to 9:10. Four match points followed for Germany at 14:10 that eventually sealed the second opportunity (15-11) to bring it home 3-2.
German head coach Ulf Quell was proud of his team’s performance: “It was a very hard match. I am proud of my guys and happy for them. They deserve to have this win. They have worked so hard in every game. It is a good experience for the team to have this success. It was very important that we won, because it was our last chance to keep the hope of going to Poland alive. Each game is important, because we develop and learn as a team. Everything is open tomorrow where we meet Denmark. We have the chance in our hands, now we need to grab it”.
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