Romania ends 2012 European League with a win, Dutch finish home weekend as pool leader
2012 CEV Volleyball European League - Men
Rotterdam, the Netherlands, June 17, 2012. Based on the opening set in Rotterdam this afternoon, it was not likely that the Netherlands would win their last 2012 CEV Volleyball European League - Men home match against the Czech Republic. But the Oranjes recovered in time and were the deserved winners after four sets: 3:1 (16-25, 25-20, 25-12, 25-22). With this result, the Dutch start the last pool round next week in Austria as the leader of pool B. Although Austria convincingly won the opening set of the last match in Rotterdam today, it was Romania that took the victory in its last match of this year’s edition of the competition – 3:1 (15-25, 25-23, 25-19, 29-27).
Although the Oranjes started with a lead (4-2), it was not quite flawless on the Dutch side. The Czech blocking had its grip on the attacks of the home team and the Dutch defense was not functioning well either. At 11-19, coach Edwin Benne substituted Jelte Maan for Maarten van Garderen, a few points later setter Nimir Abdelaziz left the field for Nico Freriks. The Czech train kept on running and the guests deservedly won the opening set.
In the second act the Netherlands created a quick lead (9-6), but at 11-11 the score evened again. With Maan on serving position, again the Dutch walked away from the Czech (16-12). Czech coach Stewart Bernard tried to change the tide by substituting a few of his players, but after a float serve Freriks aced and it was 22-17. Thijs ter Horst smashed in the last set point for the home team.
With setter Freriks on serving position, the men in orange reached the first technical time-out with a maximum lead (8-0). The Czechs could not manage the serving and attacking pressure from the home team, which was clearly frustrating Bernard. And when Michal Krisko again spiked into the Dutch block, the score was 11-1. An ace by Wytze Kooistra brought 18-9 on the scoreboard. The Czechs did not manage to get through the Dutch block and after a service fault of Michal Krisko, the set was over.
In the closing set the score evened again and again. At 19-19, Benne brought Robbert Andringa in on serving position, which resulted in two points in a row for the Netherlands. Bernard substituted his setter, but the margin of two points was never endangered. Krolis ended the last home match of his team with another one of his impressive spikes.
”The weekend ran like we hoped for. Still, we need to improve and play more consistently. We keep on looking for solutions”, the winning coach commented. ”But I want to compliment my team for remaining calm despite the false start.” ”We made an important step towards the Final Four”, Thijs ter Horst stated. ”Fortunately, in the second set we started playing better and maintained that level.”
The last European League duel in Rotterdam was played by the two lowest ranked teams in Pool B. After an ace by Austrian Thomas Zass, it was 16-11 to the team of Michael Warm. Romania could not find its rhythm, whereas the Austrian confidence grew along with its scored points. After a perfect attack from the 3-meter line by Alexander Berger it was 19-11. Two spiked out balls of Romania brought Austria their first set-point. An out served Romanian ball ended the opening set.
In the beginning of the second set, the teams were more equal. Then Austria walked away (14-10), but Romania kept on track and evened the score at 22-22. A well-placed Romanian block made the Southern Europeans lead for the first time in the match, and after the kill block by Florin Balhaceanu, Romania had its first set point. At 23-25 the set was closed.
Romania took the lead from the start in the third act. The margin was steadily built up in the course of the set. At 12-18, Warm substituted his setter, but it did not produce the effect the Austrian coach was looking for. A well-placed spike on the Austrian block by Balhaceanu ended the third set.
In the closing act, again Romania quickly took the lead (2-4, 4-8). Mihai Gheorghita, the tallest man on the playing court, was the last man touching the Mikasa after an amusing rally (6-10). The Austrians refused to give in and after an ace by Thomas Zass, it was 14-15. A perfectly placed block followed by an ace by Peter Wohlfahrtstätter made Austria lead again (18-17). An exciting closing phase arrived before Austria had its first set-point (24-23). When the serve landed outside the line, the score evened again. The team of Warm also missed its following three set-points (27-27). Balhaceanu brought the first match-point to Romania, which was cashed by a three-men-wide block by the match winner.
”We are happy we won our last European League match of this year. Because we won against Austria in the Czech Republic, we started too confident today. But towards the end of the match we controlled the game again”, Romanian coach Dan Gavril said. ”When the Romanians changed their serving strategy, we did not have an answer. In the closing set we found it, but we were unfortunate in scoring the last point needed”, Austrian coach Warm stated.
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