Ankara, Turkey, August 18, 2012. Host Turkey started their 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women campaign with a solid 3:1 win over Belgium on the first competition day in Ankara. Slovenia (3:2 win versus Slovakia) and Serbia (straight-set triumph against France) were the other winners of day one in Pool I.
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In today’s opening match of Pool I, Turkey overcame Belgium 3:1 (25-19, 25-20, 25-27, 25-17). The home team needed some time to start its engines with Belgium experiencing the better start into the match (5-2). However, at the first technical time-out, Turkey had turned the tables to make it 8-6 in their favour. There was not much to do for the Belgian team against the solid Turkish passing and powerful serves. With a missile from back row, Turkish captain Damla Cakiroglu ended the first period 25-19. In the second set, Julien van de Vyver’s squad improved its offensive game, giving the host less opportunities for successful blocking. However, Turkey granted their adversaries only one point during money time to move the scoreboard quickly from 21-19 to 25-20. Birthe Wittock and Celine van Gestel had booked 16 points for Belgium in the first two sets, but it was not good enough to stop the compact Turkish game. The local heroines temporary lost focus during the third set (25-27) and in the beginning of the fourth period (1-5), but were rapidly back on track for the remaining playing time. At the second technical time-out in set 4, Turkey already led by six points. Asli Kalac closed it out for the home squad (25-17) to delight their faithful fans for the first time at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women.
Turkey coach Gökhan Edman: “It’s was important to win our first match. We made some mistakes, but I’m sure we’ll improve our game in the next days.”
Belgium coach Julien van de Vyver: “Turkey is a very experienced team. We had a chance to go to a fifth set with a good start at the beginning of the fourth period, but finally Turkey proved too strong. Congratulations.”
In the second match of Pool I, Slovenia overpowered Slovakia in a roller-coaster match 3:2 (25-16, 21-25, 21-25, 25-17, 15-12). It was mainly Slovenian opposite Iza Mlakar who left her mark in the beginning of the duel. With her 15 points after two sets, Mlakar was the star on the court at Baskent Hall in Ankara. She acted powerful at the net or hammered dominantly from back row, giving the Slovakian defence players a hard time. However, after a difficult first set (16-25), the Slovakian squad changed up a gear. As from the beginning of the second period, the team of head coach Eva Kosekova took over command. Compared to their opponents, the Slovakians had much more variations available. Nevertheless, related to today’s first match featuring Turkey versus Belgium, the overall level of the second match was undoubtedly lower. After three sets, Slovakia led 2:1. However, Slovenia didn’t give up. The team of head coach Bruno Najdic obviously improved their passing and found better solutions at the net. As a consequence, Slovenia won set four 25-17 and switched side at 8-4 in the deciding fifth set. Slovakian middle blocker Nikola Stumpelova reduced the gap to two points with a service winner, before captain and outside hitter Nika Blagne smashed to a 12-7 Slovenian lead. Slovakia again fought back courageously to 11-12, but couldn’t stop Lana Scuka at the end of the match. Mlakar ended it in Slovenian’s favour 15-12.
Slovenia coach Bruno Najdic: “After the easy win of the first set, we were not focused enough in the second and third set. Luckily, we found a way back into the match. It was important to win the first match here.”
Slovakia head coach Eva Kosekova: “It is difficult to win a match without a better quality in reception. Some of my players are not used to play on such a level. As the match went on, we found better solutions, but they were not good enough.”
In today’s last match of Pool I, Serbia made short work of their opponents from France. Serbia as one of the favourites of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women outclassed the West Europeans in straight sets (25-18, 25-17, 25-20). Best scorers of the match were Natasa Cikiriz (13 kills) and captain Bianka Busa (11) for Serbia and Safiatou Zongo (9) for France. France showed great fighting spirit, but missed some precision to involve the Serbian squad in trouble. “Les bleus” managed to keep the game balanced mainly in the beginning of the first and second period, but experienced more difficulties towards the end of the sets. Or to put it another way, Serbia always kept some reserves to augment speed and power in the deciding moments of the match. Cikiriz hammered the Mikasa down to offer Serbia seven set points at 24-17 in the second set, and a French mistake ended the set in Serbia’s favour. The story of the match didn’t change in the third and last set as Serbia already led by six points at the second technical timeout. France bounced back to 20-23, before Busa at the net and Cikiriz with a service winner closed the match out 3:0 for Serbia.
Serbia coach Ratko Pavlicevic: “We have to stay focused for the next matches. We played well today, but need to improve our level, especially in passing and defence. France showed great skills in defence.”
Serbia captain Bianka Busa: “We still need more power and fighting spirit on the court. But we are happy, congratulations to my team and to the French players.”
France head coach Jacques Beraud: “We played against a strong Serbian team tonight. I’m satisfied with our game; there was a great fighting spirit. However, we made too many mistakes, particularly in serving.”
France captain Kim Nowak: “This first match was positive for us. We experienced some really good moments, but also had some difficult periods. We need better serves for the next match.”
The classic powers Italy and Serbia, host Turkey as well as Russia, Poland and Germany are the favorites for the crown of the prestigious CEV under 19 age category competition. Two weeks before the men’s juniors will battle for medals in Denmark and Poland, Turkey is in the spot light for the prominent CEV event at Baskent Hall that hosts Pool I and Ahmet Taner Kislali Hall featuring Pool II. A total of 38 matches will be played during the tournament, running from August 18-26.
The Preliminary Phase of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women is split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool advancing to the semifinals. Pool I comprises 2010 runner-up Serbia, host Turkey, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belgium and France. Pool II sees title holder Italy defending their reputations versus 2010 bronze medalist the Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Germany as well as Bulgaria.
CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women Records
2010 in Serbia: Italy (gold), Serbia (silver), Czech Republic (bronze)
2008 in Italy: Italy (gold), Russia (silver), Turkey (bronze)
2006 in France: Italy (gold), Croatia (silver), Ukraine (bronze)
2004 in Slovakia: Italy (gold), Serbia & Montenegro (silver), Russia (bronze)
2002 in Croatia: Poland (gold), Ukraine (silver), Belarus (bronze)
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