Czechs celebrate tie-break victory to finish their run in the prelims
2013 CEV Volleyball European League - Men
Opava, Czech Republic, July 7, 2013. The Czech Republic finished their campaign in the prelims of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European League – Men by edging Spain 3:2 (22-20, 18-21, 21-18, 21-23, and 15-12) on the last day of action in Opava. The Czechs will participate in the final four scheduled for July 13-14 in Marmaris, Turkey, together with hosts Turkey and the winners of Pool A and C, Belgium and Croatia.
Though the home heroes had secured their ticket to the final stage of the competition though losing 2:3 to Montenegro on Saturday, still a large crowd – 2,800 spectators – got together at Opava sports hall for the final day of action in Pool B. The Czechs started out strong (8:5) before Spain responded by flipping the charts around (12:14). Still the home guys could find back their best play to move up 18:15 and claim the provisional 1:0 after a very close final phase (22-20). Spain set the pace of the game in the second set going up by three points at the technical time-out (12:9). Though they were struggling to display their best game, the Czechs could reduce the gap to one point (13:14) helped by the addition of Lukas Tichacek and Michal Krisko. However, Spain did not lose composure and re-opened the gap to cash their first set ball at 21-18 and make it 1:1 in sets. A very close race followed in the third set and the teams were separated by a very small margin up to the final rush where the Czechs changed gear to make it 21-18 and get back the lead in the match. Spain did react promptly in the fourth set where the guests got a 3-point lead (8:11); the Czechs responded with Tomas Hysky, Tomas Siroky and Adam Bartos, but Spain showed their killing instinct in a very dramatic money time to cash the 21-23 that called for a tie-break. After a weak start, the Czechs there came back from behind to delight their many fans and go for the 15-12 that sealed a memorable Volleyball weekend for everyone there in Opava.
“It was a very good game to finish the tournament and I am sure that the audience liked it” said Czech mentor Stewart Bernard. “Both teams fought until the end and it was great to play before such audience; I think none of us will forget the weekend we spent here in Opava”.
“We wanted to reward our fans with a win for the great atmosphere we enjoyed throughout the three days we spent here in Opava” added team captain Ondrej Boula. “Once again we went through ups and downs but never mind: we are the winners of the Pool and have qualified for the final four, so this is what really matters in the end”.
“We fought bravely but we had problems in reception while the Czechs served really strong” said Spain’s opposite Daniel Rocamora. “It was nevertheless a great game to close the tournament and I hope that everyone enjoyed it”.
On Sunday Montenegro had opened the program by edging Hungary in three straight sets (25-19, 25-19, and 25-15) to complete a clean sweep of their matches scheduled for this weekend. The team mentored by head coach Nikola Matijasevic stood out in all fundamentals and particularly in blocking as they killed 11 vs. only 5 for their opponents. The players of Hungary looked tired and even though they served well, that was not enough to change the course of the game.
“We are very happy that we could win three matches this weekend but we are disappointed that we could not achieve this goal last week as we played at home in Podgorica” says Montenegrin wing-spiker Vojin Cacic. “We felt the pressure there but here in Opava everything worked just fine for us”.
“We have a very young team and did not have that much time to prepare for this competition so this explains why we did not perform that good in the first couple of rounds. However, we improved match after match and I am happy with what we achieved in our first participation in the European League” head coach Nikola Matijasevic commented.
“We are tired and could not stand a chance against such good opponent. We nevertheless could get more experience on the international stage and next season we would like to use it to win some matches” said Hungary’s outside hitter Balazs Bagics.
“Since the players included on our starting six are very tired I wanted to use this game as a chance to test out some of our backlines. The participation in the European League was a very valuable and good experience for the group and we have many positives to take from this campaign” concluded Hungary’s mentor György Demeter.
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