Serbia and host Turkey claim semifinal spots, France and Slovakia eliminated
2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women
Ankara, Turkey, August 22, 2012. After four competition days in Pool I, host Turkey as well as Serbia have already claimed their semifinal spots at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women. In front of 1’600 thrilled spectators, Turkey beat Slovakia 3:0, whilst Serbia overpowered Belgium 3:1. France (straight-set defeat versus Slovenia) lost their last chance to qualify for the classification round. “Les bleus” as well as Slovakia will have to pack their bags after Thursday’s last Pool I matches.
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Host Turkey kept a clean shirt at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women by beating Slovakia in straight sets (25-21, 25-17, 25-13). Like their rivals from Serbia, Turkey improved their win-loss record in Pool I to 4-0. Best scorer of the match was Turkish middle-blocker Asli Kalac with twelve points, whilst Miroslava Rehakova booked seven kills for Slovakia. Although Slovakia had lost all their Pool I matches so far, the team of head coach Eva Kosekova showed a remarkable fighting spirit. It needed all the power and speed of the Turkish team to overcome their adversaries, particularly in the first set. Turkey led 8-5 and 16-13 at the technical time-outs, but helped the Slovaks to bounce back to two points (23-21). However, it was captain Damla Cakiroglu who hammered the Mikasa through the Slovakian defense to give Turkey a hard-earned 1:0 set lead. The story of the match didn’t change in the second and third set as the Turks set the pace with clever block-defense work and an extraordinary productivity in attack. On the other side, the Slovakian spikers still experienced too many difficulties to score (17-25). The match was over as a contest now, but the young local heroines still continued their show to delight the 1’600 faithful fans at Baskent Hall in Ankara. After 74 minutes of play, head coach Gökhan Edman’s ladies booked their fourth win in Pool I (25-13), securing them their spot for Saturday’s semifinals.
Turkey head coach Gökhan Edman: “Tonight we played very well in passing and defense. Tomorrow’s game versus Serbia will be very interesting. Then we are looking forward to the semifinals; it doesn’t matter against which team we will play. There is not a big difference between the three best teams in Pool II; they are all very strong teams.”
Slovakia head coach Eva Kosekova: “We tried to put a lot of pressure on the Turkish passers. Sometimes it worked, but generally Turkey is a very solid team. Although we adapted our tactics, it was finally not enough to overcome the home team.”
Serbia retained the lead in Pool I by beating Belgium 3:1 (25-23, 25-13, 20-25, 25-20). Hence Serbia continued their winning streak at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women with their fourth consecutive triumph, before facing Turkey in Thursday’s “final” of Pool I. Best scorer of the match was Serbia’s opposite Natasa Cikiriz with 21 kills, followed by captain Bianka Busa and middle-blocker Jelena Trnic with 15 points each. Belgian Karolina Goliat scored 15 times for the losing team. The Serbian squad jumped out for a convincing 18-11 lead in the first set, but helped their opponents bouncing back with a quite nonchalant attitude. The scoreboard showed 23-23 when the young Serbian talents remembered their qualities. A sharp Cikiriz serve made Celine van Gestel sweat to offer the first set after all to Serbia’s side. It seemed as it was a wake-up call for the team of head coach Ratko Pavlicevic as in the second set there was only one team playing (25-13). Nevertheless, the Belgian ladies showed once more their outstanding fighting skills as they came back bravely in the third period. At the second technical break, Belgium already led by four points, before Karolina Goliat fired two missiles to bring her squad back on track (25-20). The plot of the match didn’t change in the next set, at least not until 13-6. It seemed as at the moment the Serbian players decided to start fighting again. As a consequence, the Belgian spikers couldn’t find any free space at the net with seven (!) Serbian block kills in the second part of set No. 4. After 103 minutes of intense play, Serbia finally booked their fourth victory at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women (25-20).
Serbia head coach Ratko Pavlicevic: “Congratulations to Belgium, they never gave up. They found solid solutions in the third set, but we managed to counter them at the end of the fourth set with excellent block-defense work.”
Serbia top scorer Natasa Cikiriz: “Tonight we proved our strong mental skills. We knew that we were able to come back. Our fantastic block play gave us wings to do so.”
Belgium head coach Julien van de Vyver: “I guess we deserved at least one point tonight. We had the chance to win the first set, then again the fourth. My players showed remarkable fighting spirit.”
In today’s first Pool I clash, Slovenia secured their ticket for the round of the best eight teams at 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women. The young Slovenian talents beat France in straight sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-22) to send their challengers home. Slovenia jumped out for an 8-6 lead at the first technical time-out, but there was not much to separate the two opponents in the beginning of the match. Lana Scuka, Iza Mlakar and captain Nika Blagne booked some astonishing points for the East Europeans, whilst on France’s side Elisabeth Fedele was the most efficient player at the start of this important duel. Things were still close at 21-20 for Slovenia; nevertheless the French players seemed to be too self-doubting to run past their adversaries (21-25). It was still no outstanding demonstration for top volleyball in the second set as both teams experienced too many unforced errors. The French youngster struggled with passing, whilst Mlakar as well as middle-blocker Elena Kucej hammered the Slovenians to a merited 2:0 set lead. Slovenia had nine service winners after two sets, France only three. The story of the match didn’t change in the third and last set as Slovenia never looked back (25-22), increasing their win-loss record to 2-2 at the 2012 edition of CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women.
Slovenia head coach Bruno Najdic: “For sure we felt some pressure today. We needed this win to advance to the next round. However, the girls were focused, even when we didn’t play the match of our life. However, we served much better than France.”
Slovenia captain Nika Blagne: “We were ready to go all-in today. We managed to put a lot of pressure on the French receivers.”
France head coach Jacques Beraud: “Development includes moments like that one. We have to learn dealing with pressure, that’s why it’s very important to take part in such important tournaments.”
Two weeks before the men’s juniors will battle for medals in Denmark and Poland, Turkey is in the spotlight 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 are 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.
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