Serbia and host Turkey to battle for gold in Ankara
2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women
Ankara, Turkey, August 25, 2012. 2010 runner-up Serbia will challenge host Turkey in Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women in Ankara, Turkey. Serbia beat titleholder Italy in straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 26-24) before Turkey overcame Russia in a thrilling roller-coaster match and in front of 5’200 ecstatic supporters 3:2 (18-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-6). For the first time since 2002, Italy lost their semifinal at CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women whilst the magic Turkish team kept their dreams alive for another gold medal after their triumphs at 2011 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls and 2011 FIVB Volleyball Girls' Youth World Championship.
Turkey will face Serbia for the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women final in Ankara on Sunday at 14:00 (local time) preceded by the bronze medal match between Italy and Russia at 11:30 (local time).
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For the first time since 2002, Italy will not play the final match of CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women. The team of head coach Marco Mencarelli lost today’s first semifinal duel against Serbia at Baskent Hall in Ankara in straight sets (23-25, 19-25, 24-26). Two years after their silver medal in Nis, Serbia qualified again for the prestigious gold medal match. Best scorer of the match was Italy’s Elena Perinelli with 14 kills, whilst Bianka Busa booked twelve points for Serbia. The East Europeans scored 13 block kills, Italy on the other side had only six.
Titleholders Italy jumped out for a 4-1 in the first set with Serbia struggling in reception. However, the team of head coach Ratko Pavlicevic fired back immediately with three consecutive block kills to turn the tables at the first technical break (8-6). The “squadra azzurra” needed a fast offensive game to overcome the strong Serbian block, but some imprecise passing forced Italian setter Giulia Carraro to slow down her game. At 17-20, Italian head coach Mencarelli called his young talents off court to have a serious talk. Alessia Fiesoli and Perinelli reduced the gap to one point at 19-20, but 2010 runner-up Serbia kept the upper hand during “money time”. Jelena Trnic brought up set point with a quick combination in the middle before captain Busa ended the first set in Serbia’s favor with a blistering winner on the left. With ten points, Perinelli was the outstanding force for Italy in the starting set, whilst Natasa Cikiriz helped her side with six kills.
Serbia still set the pace in the beginning of the second set (8-5). Although the defending champions showed some remarkable work in defense, their overall game was too inexact. Busa added some razor-sharp serves to bother the Italian passers. Mencarelli sent in Martina Recine for Carraro, but at the second technical break, the scoreboard still showed a three-point difference in Serbia’s favor. Both teams experienced many ups and downs in the second period, not always performing at their best level. However, it was the Serbian side which kept control at the end of the set with Nikolina Lukic hammering for a well-deserved 2:0 Serbian set lead (25-19). Best player on the court so far was undoubtedly Serbia’s setter Sladjana Mirkovic who directed the Serbian game brilliantly and added some astonishing saves in defense.
Even though Italy’s captain Cristina Chirichella tried to encourage her teammates with some speedy arrangements through the middle, the reigning champions experienced major problems in almost all aspects of their game. Busa opened the gap to six points at the second technical time-out, offering Serbia an excellent opportunity to battle for gold on Sunday afternoon. On the other side, Italy’s hopes for a fifth (!) consecutive triumph at CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women vanished into thin air. However, a fantastic comeback with eight (!) consecutive points brought the South Europeans suddenly back on track. Nevertheless, the Serbians kept cool, turning around the score again. After 83 minutes of play, the Pavlicevic squad seized their second match ball to bounce in heaven (26-24).
Serbia coach Ratko Pavlicevic: “The clear result is a surprise for me. We faced Italy many times and it was always very hard to beat them. But today we stayed calm and believed in our-selves. Now we’ll celebrate a short moment before focusing again for Sunday’s final duel.”
Serbia captain Bianka Busa: “We played very steadily at the net and had a strong block. I guess we deserved to win today.”
Italy head coach Marco Mencarelli: “We lost against the best team of the tournament. Congratulations, Serbia made an excellent preparation for this final round.”
Italy captain Cristina Chirichella: “We experienced many difficulties today. But Serbia was a very strong opponent; congratulations to the Serbian players.”
In front of 5’200 astounded spectators in today’s second semifinal clash, host Turkey overpowered 2008 runner-up Russia in five sets (18-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-6) to challenge Serbia in Sunday’s gold medal match of the 2012 CEV Junior Volleyball European Championship – Women. A 23-20 lead in the fourth set was not enough for Russia to pull through, giving their opponents the chance for a remarkable comeback. Best scorer of the exhilarating match at Baskent Hall was Russia’s Kseniia Ilchenko with 16 kills.
It seemed as the young Turkish talents were quite nervous in the beginning of the first set. On the other side, powerhouse Russia made an excellent start into the match with Voronkova and Rimma Goncharova on fire. At 1-5, Turkey’s head coach Gökhan Edman called his ladies already off court to try and break Russia’s rhythm. It didn’t help as the East Europeans kept control, opening the gap to seven points at the second technical break. Turkey saved a set ball at 17-24, before Irina Voronkova ended the first period in Russia’s favor. The squad of head coach Svetlana Safronova booked three block kills in the first set, Turkey zero.
In front of their enthusiastic home crowd, the host slowly but surely found their pace in the second set. On the other side, Russia tried to distance their opponents with powerful serves. Turkey had a small advantage at the first technical break (8-6), whilst Russia led by one point at the second technical time-out (16-15). The promising Russian talents were still two points ahead at 22-20, but needed a pause at 22-22 to recover from two exciting Turkish combinations. Ceyda Aktas blocked for a 23-22 lead, before she brought up set point for Turkey two rallies later. Irina Fetisova sent the ball out of bounds to level the set-counter to 1:1. It seemed as Turkey had now found their pace whilst the Russians started to struggle. It was a demonstration of strength and power with the Turks completely dominating their adversaries in the first part of the third set. Turkey led 21-15, then 23-18, but couldn’t conclude. Seven (!) Russian points in a row turned the match upside down (25-23). It seemed to be the turning point of today’s second semifinal duel. But Turkey bounced back heroically. 20-23 down at the end of the fourth set, captain Damla Cakiroglu served five times in a row to level the match to two sets all, electrifying the 5’200 fans at Baskent Hall in Ankara.
Turkey jumped out for a 5-0 in the beginning of the fifth set. The Russians completely lost momentum, whilst the host never looked back. Ercan hammered for an 8-2 lead at side switch, before Ceylan Arisan concluded a fast Turkish combination to make it 12-5. Setter Cagla Akin brought up match point with a service winner, and a Russian mistake at the net offered the home squad a very hard-earned tie-break win (15-6).
Turkey head coach Gökhan Edman: “I would like to congratulate the players for this thrilling match today. Russia found excellent solutions to challenge us, but at the end my team took advantage of its experience.”
Turkey captain Damla Cakiroglu: “We showed an outstanding fighting spirit today. We never gave up; even though in the fourth set when Russia was very close to win.”
Russia head coach Svetlana Safronova: “Congratulations to Turkey. But I’m sure at home the result would have been different. The Turkish fans helped their team a lot. On the other hand, my players missed some experience in the crucial moments of the match.”
Russia captain Elena Novik: “Unfortunately, we committed too many mistakes tonight. We had the opportunity to win, but were not experienced enough to pull through.”
Match schedule for Sunday:
10:00 Classification match 7-8 – Slovenia vs. Belgium (Kislali)
11:30 Bronze medal match 3-4 – Italy vs. Russia (Baskent)
12:30 Classification match 5-6 – Germany vs. Poland (Kislali)
14:00 Gold medal match 1-2 – Serbia vs. Turkey (Baskent)
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