Bar, Montenegro, April 1, 2013. In the match of the day in Pool I, the Czech Republic beat Greece in extremis 3:1 to keep their hopes alive for an eventual semifinal spot at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Girls. Poland (3:1 versus Montenegro) and Italy (in straight sets against Slovenia) won their duels quite easily. The “squadra azzurra” remains unbeaten after three competition days.
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The Czech Republic vs. Greece 3:1 (25-21, 20-25, 29-27, 26-24)
The Czech Republic proved strong nerves by defeating Greece 3:1 at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls on Monday evening. Strong mental skills and effective attacking were the keys to the Czech team's second victory of the tournament after almost two hours toil. Anna Sucha was the player of the match with 24 points, including four aces. Greece booked 19 block winners.
The two teams played consistently in the opening set where the Czech Republic maintained a narrow advantage to 16-15 and 21-20. At the crucial moments of set one, Michaela Mlejnkova, who scored nine points in the first set, led the Czechs to a hard-earned 1:0 set advantage.
Greece overcame a slowly start in the second set. Some impressive spikes and several block winners from Ioanna Gkountimenko helped the Greeks pull it back to 14-14. On the other side, the Czech Republic committed too many mistakes. A three-point run moved the scoreboard forward to 21-16 for Greece. Captain Olga Strantzali came out with a cracking spike to make it 25-20 and pulled one set back.
Inspired by the win of the third set, the Greece girls continued the momentum to start the third set strongly thanks to a couple of smashes of Anthi Vasilantonaki. Czech head coach Leos Chalupa sent in second setter Marie Kurkova for Katerina Valkova early in the third set but couldn’t stop the Greek winning streak at that moment of the game. However, four set balls were not enough for Greece to close it out. Czech opposite Anna Sucha started her one-woman show with seven consecutive winners to make it 29-27 and to turn the tables in the Czech Republic’s favor.
Even though Greece never gave up in the fourth set, the Czech proved nerves of steel during “money-time”. After 116 minutes of play, Mlejnkova seized the third match ball to bounce Chalupa’s team in heaven.
The Czech Republic head coach Leos Chalupa: “This was a very important match for us because we aim to take part in the second part of the tournament, and of course to stay a couple more days in the very nice town of Bar. We proved strong nerves in the crucial moments of the match, especially at the end of the third and fourth set.”
Italy vs. Slovenia 3:0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-20)
The Czech Republic captain Pavlina Simanova: “We are very happy. It was a very important match. We were persistent; even in difficult moments we got the strength to change the result and to win the match.”
Greece captain Olga Strantzali: “We experienced many problems during our match today. Our reception was bad, and we could not find appropriate solutions in attack.”
2011 runner-up Italy beat Slovenia in straight sets here Monday afternoon to gain their third consecutive win at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls in Bar, Montenegro. Anastasia Guerra celebrated the Italian triumph by scoring 17 points for the “squadra azzurra”, while Elisa Zanette added nine.
Italy started strongly against Slovenia, jumping to a 16-8 lead in the opening set. After the game resumed, the young Italians steadily pushed forward the game by dominating the match with their powerful serves and solid block work. Slovenia's head coach Joze Casar called timeout twice, but could not stop Italy's power.
The plot of the match didn’t change at all in the second period. Slovenia’s libero Maja Pahor suffered a hard time as Italy’s servers and spikers used her as principal target. Italy’s Anastasia Guerra led Italy to an easy 2:0 set lead with four winning spikes and two blocks.
Casar made several changes in the beginning of the third set but his players failed to stop the winning momentum of the determined Italians. Giulia Angelina brought up match point at 24-15 for the unstoppable Italians by hammering the Mikasa down to the left sideline. Slovenia saved five but finally couldn’t prevent Italy’s third win in a row.
Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli: “Yesterday we had some girls who played not at their appropriate level, but today they have shown their real face and played very well. I am happy because many players proved that I can count on them when it is important.”
Montenegro vs. Poland 1:3 (20-25, 14-25, 25-22, 13-25)
Italy captain Ofelia Malinov: “We entered the match much more focused than yesterday. Finally it was easier than we expected.”
Slovenia head coach Joze Casar: “In my opinion the Italian team played their best match so far today. I am a little bit disappointed with the quality of reception of my team; on the other hand my setters did a great job.”
Slovenia captain Eva Mori: “During warm up we were very quiet. Even though we tried hard to find the right energy level, we failed. I do not know what happened.”
Poland cruised to a quite easy 3:1 win versus Montenegro in Monday’s last Pool I match in Bar. The hosts were not stable enough in service reception to frighten the upcoming Polish stars. Best scorer of the match was Poland’s Karolina Pisla with 15 points. Nevena Pejovic booked 12 for Montenegro. Poland had 20 (!) service winners at the end of the match.
Montenegro experienced some very strong moments at the end of the first set. Captain Marija Donovic set up several effective combinations at the net and Pejovic helped her with razor-sharp serves. However, it was not good enough to get Poland into dire straits. Poland’s head coach Grzegorz Kosatka sent in power hitter Malwina Smarzek who immediately supported her teammates with a missile through the Montenegrin defense. An Aleksandra Kazala service winner ended the opening set 25-20 for Poland.
The storyboard stayed pretty much the same in the second set. Poland displayed a powerful offensive game, while Montenegro still struggled in reception. In the third set Kosatka gave several reserve players the chance to show their talent what gradually changed the course of the game. The young local talents seized their chance for a comeback by offering solid resistance. The Montenegrin heroines – impressively – turned around the score from 11-17 to 25-22, causing deafening cheers in Topolica Sports Hall in Bar.
Nevertheless, Poland restored order in the fourth set. The East Europeans regained momentum with Smarzek on fire. Magdalena Damaske ended the match after 99 minutes with a service winner in Poland’s favor.
Montenegro captain Marija Donovic: “In the third set, we had nothing to lose. We just enjoyed playing what helped us coming back strongly. Still, it was not stable enough.”
Poland captain Paulina Baldyga: “We committed too many mistakes in the third set. Suddenly, we let them play. Fortunately we showed a strong reaction in the fourth set.”
The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls is split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool advancing to the semifinals. Pool I comprises host Montenegro, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, the Czech Republic as well as Poland. Pool II sees the local heroines from Serbia defending their reputations versus Russia, Germany, France, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The final ranking of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls will determine the six teams representing Europe at this year’s FIVB Girls' Youth World Championship coming up later this summer in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, as well as the eight nations taking part at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht (NED).
The matches of preliminary Pool I as well as all semi-final and final matches are available live and for free at www.laola1.tv. On the other hand, all matches of Pool II are streamed on the official website of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia and namely under the following URL: http://eng.ossrb.org.
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