Bar, Montenegro, April 4, 2013. Italy continued their winning streak at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls by beating the Czech Republic in straight sets on Thursday, finishing their Pool I campaign with a 5-0 win-loss record. Poland take the second semifinal spot from Pool I, while Slovenia (straight-set win versus Montenegro) and Greece (3:1 triumph over Poland) made it to the classification games for fifth to eighth ranks. The Czech Republic and host Montenegro are out of contention.
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Greece vs. Poland 3:1 (27-25, 28-26, 9-25, 25-21)
Greece did their homework by beating Poland in their last Pool I match on Thursday afternoon. It was a roller-coaster duel with many comebacks on both sides. Today’s win secure Greece a spot in the top eight of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls.
Best scorer of today’s first Pool I game in Bar, Montenegro, was Greek captain Olga Strantzali with 23 kills, including five service winners and one block.
Poland quickly established a 16-12 advantage in the opening set. Greece coach Dimitrios Floros was forced to replace several players after Poland pulled away to a comfortable 22-15. Floros’ plan was apparently the right strategy as the Greeks slowly but steadily came back from behind to draw level at 24-24. Ioanna Gkountimenko and Alexandra Psoma added two block kills to complete the Polish misery at 27-25.
The upcoming Greek stars were still hot in the second set, racing to an 8-6 and 16-9 lead. The Polish had lost their self-confidence from the beginning of the match. With Psoma and captain Strantzali consistent in attacking, Greece stormed to a 21-13 lead while the Poles struggled with service reception. Like on the other side in the first set – however – the South Europeans couldn’t pull through. Poland regained momentum but missed their chance to seize a set ball at 25-24. Strantzali fired back from right side before an out-of-court smash from Malwina Smarzek offered the Greeks a very hard-earned 2:0 set lead.
The Poles came back aggressively in the third set and never looked back. The two sides battled more heatedly in the fourth frame as the scoring difference never exceeded three points until the second technical break. Strantzali led her team with blistering missiles through the Polish defense. Anthi Vasilantonaki added a rocket from right side to seal the important victory for Greece.
Greece head coach Dimitrios Floros: “I would like to congratulate my team for winning this game. Whatever happens in the following matches, I am very pleased with the result.”
Italy vs. The Czech Republic 3:0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-17)
Greece captain Olga Strantzali: “I am very happy. We played very well and we deserve to be among the eight best teams.”
Poland captain Paulina Baldyga: “I really do not know what to say. We played a very bad game and therefore I am really sad.”
Poland head coach Grzegorz Kosatka: “I am so disappointed with what we had shown that I really do not have anything to say.”
Italy continued their winning streak at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls by beating The Czech Republic in straight sets on Thursday.
Following the 25-16, 25-19, 25-17 victory, 2011 runner-up Italy sailed to a 5-0 record after conclusion of Pool I play. The Czech Republic drop to a 2-3 win-loss record and are out of contention for the decisive top eight phase of the tournament.
Czech Michaela Mlejnkova was the best scorer of the match with 14 points. The best Italian spiker Sara Bonifacio had 10 kills.
Aided by fives service aces, the “squadra azzurra” opened the first set with a 16-12 lead. As the match went to, the two hard-hitting teams exchanged powerful spikes but Italy managed to hold onto the lead firmly until the end of the set.
The young Czechs hit better form in the opening stage of the second set and were 16-14 up at the second technical break. From then on, however, the match turned into a lopsided affair as the Italian duo Sofia D’Odorico and Anna Danesi outfoxed their opponents with an array of bullet-like spikes and solid block work.
The third set was a similar situation as the East Europeans could only put up a fight in the beginning. When the upcoming Italian stars were 24-17 in front, Giulia Angelina delivered a cross-court spike from back row for the winner.
Italy head coach Luca Pieragnoli: “I am satisfied with the game my girls showed. We played very well and this is the style I want to see until the end of the tournament. We were focused and our concentration was on a high level.”
Slovenia vs. Montenegro 3:0 (25-7, 25-9, 25-9)
Italy captain Ofelia Malinov: “The end of the tournament is approaching and we are happy to start the final phase. We played well on all positions today, but I must point out that our blockers did a great job.”
The Czech Republic head coach Leos Chalupa: “In my opinion Italy is a very strong team and they deserve to battle for the medals. We played very badly tonight, finishing fifth in our Pool. We’ll stay a couple of days here in Bar and enjoy the final stage of the tournament.”
The Czech Republic captain Pavlina Simanova: “We couldn’t find any solutions to overcome the strong Italian blockers. It is hard to finish like that.”
Slovenia swept past host Montenegro in straight sets in their last Pool I match at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls here on Thursday night. The upcoming Slovenian stars chalked up the 25-7, 25-9, 25-9 victory in just 57 minutes.
Slovenia’s Lana Scuka topped the scorer chart with 16 points, including one service winner and three blocks. Ela Pintar helped her side with 10 kills.
Slovenia started aggressively holding a perfect lead (8-0) at the first technical break. Montenegro then made two receiving errors as head coach Joze Casar’s squad enlarged their advantage to 14-0. Slovenia maintained their poise and didn't let the hosts to get closer.
The Slovenians went off to a 16-5 lead in the second set, but Montenegro, cheered on by the screaming home fans, refused to surrender easily and added some points to their records to make it 9-21. The blue-and-whites stayed focus and soon closed it out thanks to efficient blocking and powerful spiking.
Going down two sets, Montenegro played cooler without pressure to take a 3-1 and 4-3 lead early in the third period. But the Slovenians staged a 3-0 run to change around the score at 8-5. Montenegro did their best but could not strike back after the Slovenian strengthened defence and counter-attacked well. When Slovenia was leading 24-9, Sasa Zdovc leaped from the right for a well-timed spike to close out the uncontested duel.
Montenegro player Iva Mandic “We gained a lot of experience. It was not always easy as we gradually lost self-confidence. Anyway, we’ll enjoy the finals here in Bar as spectators.”
Slovenia captain Eva Mori: “We stayed much focused tonight as we knew that we need a win to play for the classification matches. We served very well, putting a lot of pressure on the Montenegrin receivers.”
The Preliminary Phase of the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship – Girls was split into two pools of six teams with the top two from each pool advancing to the semifinals. The third and fourth ranked teams play for places 5-8.
Match schedule for Saturday:
Classification matches 5-8:
10:30 Greece vs. Russia
13:00 Germany vs. Slovenia
15:30 Italy vs. Serbia
18:00 Turkey vs. Poland
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).
All semifinal and classification matches are available live and for free at www.laola1.tv.
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