Waiting for final four weekend Croatia completes prelims with yet another win
2013 CEV Volleyball European League - Men
Mogilev, Belarus, July 7, 2013. Croatia completed their run in the prelims of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European League – Men claiming also the last match on schedule for the round of play in prelim Pool C. On Sunday the players around head coach Igor Simuncic bested hosts Belarus 3:1 (21-17, 18-21, 21-14, and 21-16) to get another boost of confidence before the final four coming up next weekend in Marmaris, Turkey.
Though they had already pocketed their ticket to the final stage of the competition, Croatia’s players looked very concentrated and determined right from the start of their game with Belarus. After suffering a shocking straight-set defeat to Israel on Saturday, the local heroes want to redeem themselves before their many fans at Olimpiets sports hall, but the very busy scheduled of the past weeks evidently affected the quality of the game displayed by Belarus. After a very close fight in the first and second set, Croatia imposed their pace and finished the game in four sets well supported by their opposite Ivan Raic who scored 21 points. Belarus performed well in blocking but this could not compensate for their lack of consistency in attack.
“The European League was a very good and useful experience for our team. Unfortunately as we came to Mogilev for the last round my players were really tired and so I am happy that in the end we could finish second in the group. This was a very important step to prepare for the final round of the European Championship. By then the best and most experienced players will be added to the group and we shall be able to play much better come September” said Belarus head coach Viktor Sidelnikov.
“It’s great that we could finish the prelims with yet another victory but Belarus was evidently not that much focused on the game” Croatia’s head coach Igor Simuncic said. “We always play with the same players and they can’t perform their best every single day. So we made serving errors but Ivan Raic played – once again – just superbly. Though he’s already an excellent player, I think there is still room for improvement for him”.
In the other match of the day Turkey downed Israel in three straight sets (21-7, 21-17, and 21-16). Good serving contributed by Can Ayvazoglu made the difference for Turkey in the opening set that was cashed with the terrific score of 21-7. Israel stepped up in the second and third set but Turkey always controlled the game and could score a 3:0 win to start preparing for the home final four that is coming up next week in Marmaris.
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