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04/01/2013 21:00
France and Greece improve their positive record in Volos
2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Girls

Volos, Greece, January 4, 2013. France stands out as the dominant force of the European qualifier that is currently running in Volos after the girls mentored by Serge Marouteau did score on Friday their second consecutive win in straight sets by cruising past Denmark. The home heroines of Greece are also still in contention for a ticket to the final round after scoring their second win in the competition while Spain suffered another shocking defeat, again at the tie-break, this time to the likes of Finland.  
France prolonged its winning streak in the group by edging Denmark in straight sets (27-25, 25-8, and 25-23) to keep an immaculate record after two rounds of play. In the first set the underdogs from Denmark clawed back from 19:22 to move up 23:22, but some errors in the key moments paved the way for France’s final rush (27-25). The young ladies in blue jerseys dominated the scene in the second set opening with a terrific 11:0 run that practically closed the door to any possible comeback for Denmark (25-8). After opting for their second setter, the Danes stepped up in set 3 and via three aces contributed by Amalie Victoria Owie they went up 18:16. France responded well by also taking risks from the serving line, flipping the score around (from 18:20 to 22:20) with Héléna Cazaute eventually cashing a well-deserved 3:0 win with a splendid attack (25-23).  

After a real marathon, Greece did also score its second win in the tournament doing so by edging Azerbaijan 3:2 (25-20, 21-25, 16-25, 25-15, and 15-13) in a match that was stopped for half an hour after a black-out had left the neighborhood of Volos without electricity.  Greece started out quite strong claiming the opening set but their opponents played intelligently, especially in defense, thereby forcing the home heroines to make many mistakes and pocketing set 2 and 3. In the fourth set Greece had moved up 19:10 before the game was stopped for half an hour since that blackout had left the sports hall in darkness and after the match resumed, Greece cruised to the final 25-15 that called for the tie-break. Greece opened with a splendid 5:1 run but Azerbaijan responded well flipping the charts around (12:13). However, two attacks killed by Anthi Vasilantonaki and an ace contributed by Olga Strantzali sealed the final 15-13 and Greece’s second win in the tournament. “I think that everyone enjoyed this game. Yesterday we had edged Spain 3:2 and today we lost with the same score. Greece has a strong team and I think they can make it to the final round” said Azerbaijan’s head coach Aleksandr Chervyakov. 
“We knew Azerbaijan mainly relies on two players but we could not stop them until the fourth set and we also made too many mistakes. However, we eventually found our rhythm and in the end we got the upper hand” commented Greece’s team captain Olga Strantzali.  

After losing on Thursday to Azerbaijan, Spain suffered its second defeat in the competition, this time being ousted by Finland again with the score of 3:2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, and 15-13). With this result the chances for Spain to make it to the final round look already compromised even though three rounds are still left before completion of the tournament. Spain started out really good by claiming the first two sets and standing out in blocking but Finland stormed back in set three by serving really well and exploiting Spain’s unforced errors. The block and service helped Finland’s quest for the tie-break with the fourth set being sealed by an ace of Janika Rontti. Finland stormed out to a massive 5:1 in the decider and even though Spain fought back (8:10), the “Suomis” could ultimately celebrate their first win in the tournament (15-13).  

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