Finland pulls the biggest upset on day 1 in Belgrade
2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys
Belgrade, Serbia, April 12, 2013. Finland is the team that pulled the major upset on the first competition day in Final Round Pool II of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys, by defeating incumbent champions and hosts Serbia in Belgrade. The boys around coach Pertti Honkanen managed a 3:1 win to the disappointment of the local crowd at Šumice sports center. Earlier Turkey could not live up to the expectations for a big showdown against powerful Russia and was completely shut out. France managed to bring down an ambitious Bulgaria by 3:1.
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Turkey vs. Russia 0:3 (17-25, 20-25, 6-25)
In the eagerly-awaited opening duel in Pool II, Russian powerhouse swept away Turkey by 3:0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-6). Russia’s Victor Poletaev topped the scorers’ chart with 14 points, including 4 kill blocks.
Only in the first stage of the opening set Turkey was an equal rival to the potent Russian team. At the first technical time-out Turkey was leading 8-5, but that was the peak of their performance in the first set. The young Russian talents slowly but surely started to narrow the gap after the break. Soon they took control over the match leaving behind their rivals who could not find any solution for this aggressive Russian team. Russia’s Nikolai Chepura concluded this phase of the match with a powerful spiking kill for 25-17 in favor of the Russians.
Russia continued to steamroll their opponents in the beginning of the second set. They got to an early 8-3 lead as the young Turkish players struggled defending against powerful Russian slams. However, after the break Russia got a little bit more relaxed on the court, and Turkey used the opportunity to reach the tie at 13-13, and then take over the lead at 14-13. After a time-out called by Alexander Karikov, the Russian team regained confidence, tied the score, and then went 4 points ahead (21-17). Once again the Turkish side was left without an adequate answer, and Russia wrapped it up at 25-20 for 2:0 in sets.
The third set was a mere formality for Russia, who stormed to an early 12-3 lead and never allowed Turkey to dream about any kind of success in this match. In the end, a well deserved 25-6 and 3:0 to the Russians, who rightfully assumed the role of tournament favorites and strong contenders for the first place in Pool II.
Alexander Karikov, head coach of Russia: “We played a friendly game with Turkey two months ago, so we knew each other very well. I am very happy with this victory. Surely, the next match will be much more difficult for us.”
Ali Kazım Hidayetoğlu, head coach of Turkey: “Russia is a very good team with strong serving. We received badly in this match and that was the main reason for this loss. We have to move on and try to improve for the upcoming matches.”
Maxim Troynin, Russian blocker: "It was a good game. Turkey is a very good team, but today we played very well and they did not have a chance. However, I think that they could achieve some good results in this tournament."
Yiğit Gülmezoğlu, captain of Turkey: "Today we did not look like a team. Now we have to focus on the next matches and try to do better."
Bulgaria vs. France 1:3 (19-25, 23-25, 25-21, 18-25)
Today’s second Pool II match featured Bulgaria facing France. In a heavily disputed encounter French boys overpowered Bulgaria by 3:1 (25-19, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18) and booked their first victory at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys. Timothee Carle and Jean Patry from the French team and Krasimir Georgiev of Bulgaria topped the scorers’ chart with 12 points each.
It was a very vigilant start of the match from both sides. In the first stage the teams were close to each other (9-9), but then the French began to drift apart making the gap bigger by the minute. By the second technical break they earned a four-point lead (16-12), which was enough to secure a calm finish of the set. In the end, a well deserved 25-19 for the French side.
In the second set France preserved a good momentum and right from the start imposed themselves over struggling Bulgarians with an early 4-1 lead. Although Bulgaria managed to pick up their game for an instant tie at 6-6, France was firmly in control of the match. Once again they started to create a gap, and by the second technical time-out they were in front by six points (16-10). After a time-out called by Ivan Halachev of Bulgaria, his team strengthened the defense and created significant problems for Les Bleus. It was anyone’s game after the tie at 22-22, but the French were more focused in the decisive points and edged Bulgaria 25-23 for 2:0 in sets.
The third set Bulgaria started better and by the first technical time-out got a two-point lead (8-6). However, after that the French took over the control and went ahead, but this time Bulgaria would not allow them to escape once again. They reached the tie at 15-15, and then stormed to 25-21 with powerful spikes and firm blocking that left the French side without an answer.
In the fourth set the teams were evenly matched all the way through the second technical time-out (16-15 to France). However, after that Bulgaria suddenly stopped and the France certainly knew how to make the most of it. They scored several quick points for 21-16, and that was the blow Bulgaria could not recover from. In the end, Bulgaria’s serving error made it 25-18 and 3:1 to the French side.
Slimane Belmadi, head coach of France: ”I think my players felt some pressure, especially in the second and the third set. They got scared of winning and that is precisely what we cannot allow if we want to beat Serbia, for example. We need to be more stable in reception, but also mentally, and we have to use every opportunity to finish the match without delay.“
Ivan Halachev, head coach of Bulgaria: ”Today we were poor in defense and weak in attack. But we still had our chances. Unfortunately we lost, but we are positive and we think we still have enough opportunities to advance to the next round.“
Luka Bašić, captain of France: ”We got a little bit relaxed after going two sets up. It is a pity because we could have won by 3:0, but OK. Nevertheless, we scored three points and we are looking good.“
Mihail Tsvetanov, captain of Bulgaria: ”We were not focused, we made lots of serving errors, and it cost us the match. Tomorrow, we are thinking only about winning.“
Serbia vs. Finland 1:3 (26-24, 20-25, 25-27, 24-26)
In tonight’s last match of Pool II, Finland stunned the hosts and the reigning European Champions Serbia by 3:1 (24-26, 25-20, 27-25, 26-24). Sakari Makinen of Finland and Lazar Dodic of Serbia topped the scorers’ chart with 24 points each.
In the first set the teams were evenly matched all the way until the very end (24-24), when Serbia finally managed to break the deadlock and score two consecutive points for 26-24 and 1:0 in sets.
The second set started with Serbia’s Andrija Vilimanovic behind the serving line creating all sorts of problems for Finland’s receivers. With an early 3-0 lead, Serbia tried to make a statement, but the Finns soon came up with an answer overturning the score in their favor 4-3. After these initial excitements, the match briefly went into the stalemate as neither of the teams could gain some significant leverage. However, after the first technical time-out Finland pushed very hard and build an advantage of six points (16-10). Through the end of the set, Serbia was making an effort but the home side was too far behind to fully recover. In the end, it was a well deserved 25-20 to Finland and 1:1 in sets.
Once again, Serbia got an early lead in the set (4-1) and once again Finland managed to quickly turn the score in their favor (8-6). After the break, Serbia regained the momentum and scored three points in a row for a 9-8 lead. The teams were battling hard for every ball, and the crowd could see some really exciting points in these moments. However, by the second technical time-out Finland reached a two point advantage (16-14), and the crowd in the hall began to feel anxious. Serbian players were under tremendous pressure, but they responded well, tying the result at 20-20. No one could predict the final score as both teams were giving their absolute maximum. The drama culminated at 26-25 to Finland, when Serbia committed an error and gave away the third set.
In the beginning of the fourth set, Finland was the better side, but Serbia was close enough all the way through the first technical break. After that, Finland’s Samuli Kaislasalo threw some excellent serves including an ace for an 11-7 lead. However, Serbia did not crumble, and the host team reached the tie at 15-15, forcing Pertti Honkanen to call for a time-out. In the finishing stage of the set a strong Finnish block proved to be decisive for the final result. Serbia struggled to find a way around Finland’s two and three-man blocks, but showed great fighting spirit. However, it was not enough to beat this inspired Finnish team. In the end, there was a well deserved 26-24 and 3:1 to the Finns.
Milan Djuricic, head coach of Serbia: “We are lacking a true team leader, one guy who would assume responsibility in the decisive moments. With this loss our chances to qualify to the semi finals are not so bright. Now we have to win virtually every match in this preliminary phase, and it is a very difficult task for these young players. However, we will do our best to recover for tomorrow’s game against France.”
Pertti Honkanen, head coach of Finland: “I am very proud of my players. We had some problems before the tournament and I am very satisfied with how they reacted. Serbia is a strong team and we had to fight all the way until the very last point to beat them”.
Lazar Dodić, captain of Serbia: “Our block was not functioning well today. But what can we do? This first match is certainly important but it is not the end of the world. There is still time to improve.”
Sakari Makinen, captain of Finland: “Our preparation for the game was very good. We knew that Serbia would be very aggressive right from the start, and I think we surprised them with an aggressive play of our own”.
All matches in Pool I are streamed live on the official website of the Serbian Volleyball Federation here.
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